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Why Risk-Based Contracts Are Worthwhile

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, October 8, 2012

The Massachusetts Medical Society released a study last week that may have escaped notice by many financial leaders, but it should be noted as it speaks to the willingness of physicians to get onboard with the new payment methods.

If Massachusetts is the national proving ground for healthcare reform, finance leaders should be paying close attention to how doctors' react to changes to payment models. What's happening in the Bay State could be an indicator of how resistant—or amenable—physicians are to changes in how they are paid.

According to a Massachusetts Medical Society survey of 1,095 practicing physicians in the state, half (49%) say they are likely to participate in a voluntary global payment system.

That's a 14% increase over 2011. Doctors working at community health centers are most open to the idea of global payments, while self-employed physicians were least likely to want to participate. It stands to reason that employed physicians (61.6%) are more likely to participate than self-employed doctors (43.4%).

The growing acceptance of this payment model is a positive one. But there is another pathway to payment reform that is attracting the interest of physicians in even greater numbers.

The MMS study notes that 60% of respondents surveyed are likely to participate in voluntary accountable care organizations—71% of primary care doctors versus 61% of specialists are identified as most likely to participate.

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