Physicians embrace Michigan program to improve health care

December 9, 2013 by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, University of Michigan

A statewide program created by Michigan's largest insurer has succeeded in engaging primary care physicians from the ground up to improve patient care, according to the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Researchers found that doctors have collaborated to make improvements, and early indications are that they have made an impact on cost and quality in Michigan.

The Physician Group Incentive Program by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan encouraged doctors across the state to collaborate to develop a vision for improving , and work to achieve it. The U-M research, reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Health Care Management, measured early success of the effort by surveying physicians and other key stakeholders.

"Physicians said things like, 'Before this program, I never worked with the primary care practice across town. Now we work together to find community and other services for our patients,'" said Christy Harris Lemak, U-M associate professor of health management and policy. "Physicians typically thought of other practices as the competition."

Today some 17,500 doctors from 40 organizations in Michigan, representing 71 percent of active and 56 percent of specialties, are part of the BCBSM . Lemak said its success largely is based on program design and leadership.

"What Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan realized is that they could not create an incentive program and just expect physician involvement. Instead, they set some goals and an initial plan, but they then engaged physicians in creating the program," she said. "Because the approach was designed and developed by physicians, they became really committed to make care better."

Some examples of physician group projects resulting from the collaboration include: development of programs to reduce chronic pain and depression; facilitation of diabetes self-management programs; creation of quality measures for colonoscopy; and increased coordination between all providers who treat patients with gastrointestinal cancer, in an effort to improve patient outcomes.

The manner in which incentives were provided also made it attractive to , Lemak said. Instead of paying only for specific performance, BCBSM rewarded doctors' offices for initial participation and learning, to help those offices that needed to build infrastructure before they could address program goals.

In addition to the creation of the shared vision and the support for practice-to-practice partnerships, the research showed provider engagement also was related to how BCBSM built the program on existing physician organization infrastructure in the state, as well as how the program leveraged resources and market share.

Lemak said the team is conducting additional research on the program to measure cost savings and the impact on care. The research is supported through a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.

Explore further: States continue to place clinicians where they are in short supply, despite recession

Related Stories

States continue to place clinicians where they are in short supply, despite recession

November 13, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Despite the recent recession, states increased the overall number of loan repayment programs designed to recruit health care professionals to live and practice in underserved communities, according to research ...

Physician shortage could be cut by new primary care models, study finds

November 4, 2013
Much of the shortage of primary care physicians expected over the next decade could be eliminated if the nation increases use of new models of medical care that expand the role of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, ...

Incentives help Mass. General's physicians organization reach quality-improvement goals

October 7, 2013
A program offering modest financial incentives to salaried Massachusetts General Hospital-affiliated physicians who achieve specific quality improvement targets has helped the organization meet goals related to the adoption ...

Pain training for primary care providers

March 5, 2013
Patients who experience chronic pain may experience improvement in symptoms if their primary care providers are specifically trained in multiple aspects of pain, including emotional consequences.

Primary care physician signing bonuses becoming the norm

November 8, 2013
(HealthDay)—Signing bonuses for primary care physicians are becoming ubiquitous in a competitive hiring landscape, according to an article published Oct. 25 in Medical Economics.

Michigan cancer programs follow care guidelines for common cancers, study finds

April 10, 2012
A majority of Michigan oncology practices participating in a statewide consortium followed treatment guidelines for common cancers, but had gaps in managing symptoms and end-of-life care, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.