Primary Care Providers Prefer Health IT to Payment Reform Models

Primary care providers (PCPs) have a higher opinion of health IT advances in healthcare than they do of payment reform models, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) and medical home, according to a recent study by The Commonwealth Fund and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In an effort to determine how physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants feel about some recent major overhauls to the healthcare system, researchers made the somewhat surprising discovery that “primary care providers generally accept the promise of HIT to improve quality of care even if previous research shows they dislike the process of transitioning from paper-based records,” write the authors of the issue brief “Primary Care Providers’ Views of Recent Trends in Health Care Delivery and Payment.”

The survey found that 50 percent of physicians and 64 percent of nurse practitioners and physician assistants said the increased use of health IT is having a positive impact on PCPs’ ability to provide quality care to patients.

Less surprisingly, PCPs have a dimmer view of payment reform initiatives that are helping to transition the US healthcare system away from a fee-for-service model to a pay-for-performance model. Under the latter model, providers receive payment incentives to improve the quality and coordination of care for their patients while taking financial penalties for decreased outcomes.

According to the Kaiser/Commonwealth Fund survey, only 14 percent of physicians and 17 percent of nurse practitioners and physician assistants said the increased use of ACOs is having a positive impact on ability to provide quality care. However, for physicians participating in ACOs, 30 percent of those in ACOs say they have a positive impact while 7 percent of those not in ACOs say the same. As the paper’s authors point out, providers are likely to have a negative view of payment models with monetary penalties and which use quality metrics to judge their care.

“As primary care transformation efforts mature and spread, it will remain important to judge their effects on patients in terms of access, quality, and costs of care…Of concern, nearly half of primary care physicians say that recent trends in health care are causing them to consider retiring earlier than planned. Market trends in health care have been affecting physicians’ satisfaction for more than 20 years. It will be   important to monitor providers’ satisfaction with delivery reform efforts,” the authors conclude.”

Click here to read the full brief.

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