Texas Doctors Changing with the Times

The rising costs of health care and lower reimbursement rates are forcing some physicians to change the way they work. From the Texas Tribune:

These new models present a culture shift for the state’s physicians, who haven’t been as quick to shed a kind of “lone ranger” status as some doctors elsewhere in the nation. But it has provided an intriguing benefit for patients, drawn to the convenience and comfort of a system financially motivated to keep them as well as possible.

“Doctors in Texas traditionally haven’t wanted to share resources, to share financial risk, to share clinical information,” said Tom Banning, chief executive of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. “But there are pioneering groups here that are putting an emphasis on quality and cost efficiency. They’re innovative nationally, and they’re moving the ball.”

Texas isn’t blazing a brand new trail; nationally, health systems like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and Intermountain Healthcare in Utah have long taken this value over volume approach. Scott & White Healthcare, with its 12 system hospitals and more than 60 clinics, has led the integrated care charge in Central Texas.

But with the rollout of federal health reform, and new Texas legislation aimed at paying for performance, not procedures, more and more Texas providers may join the movement. Last month, the United States Department of Health and Human Services launched a pilot program to pay primary care practices a monthly fee if they provide better chronic care management, give patients 24-hour access to care and health information, and collaborate with specialists to better coordinate care.

What impact will the federal government’s monthly fee for primary care physicians have on the growing shortage of these physicians?