I am of the belief that every ACO must be physician-led. We must depend on them not only for clinical improvement, but also for developing a culture of improvement. Culture is vitally important. Culture trumps dollars, technology, data, and about anything else you would use in clinical medicine. If I was getting into the ACO business, I would start recruiting clinicians that embrace these characteristics: 1. Team leadership. Every doc is a leader to some degree, ...

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New York officials are doing an “experiment” that should strike fear, anger, and outrage in the hearts of doctors who take care of Medicare patients. (New York has the highest Medicaid budget of any state.) As any doctor who has a high volume of Medicaid patients knows, Medicaid pays practically nothing.  Doctors who take Medicaid usually have to carry a bigger patient load to survive.  Medicaid patients are often sicker than ...

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As the Obamacare machine continues to grind forward, many patients have re-enrolled in a second year of coverage. While most have not had to use their insurance (the young and healthy crowd), others have found their newly minted coverage to be far less than promised. High deductibles, and up front out of pocket expenses, forced many covered by the exchanges to avoid seeking regular preventative care. Prevention was one of ...

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It is amazing to me how far emergency medicine has come as a specialty. Until the 1970s, emergency rooms were staffed by low-level resident interns who moonlighted for extra money or physicians who couldn’t find work elsewhere. After finally getting recognized as a specialty, the specialty still spent a few decades finding its way: developing training programs, improving quality, and generally trying to raise the bar on emergency care in ...

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Like most of my age cohort, I was brought up to believe that the great Satan threatening to undermine the bloated American health care system was our broken-down, antiquated, self-interested model of reimbursement for care provided called "fee-for-service."  Being a professional who, to the best of my ability, tries to maximize the value of the care I provide to my patients, I subscribed wholly to the notion that the cause ...

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Recently, I had the opportunity to sit at the table with some of the nation’s top thought leaders. We convened at the Newseum in Washington, DC, for the Healthcare Leadership Council’s National Dialogue for Healthcare Innovation; it was like a health policy nerd red carpet. Center for Medicare Director Sean Cavanaugh was there. Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder was there. America’s favorite bioethicist–oncologist–provocateur Zeke Emanuel was there. The chief executives ...

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One of the most revolting pleasures in life is to read learned opinions and in-depth analyses of consumers’ behavior written by beautiful people clad in designer clothing, dining at eclectic chic trattorias or enjoying the occasional canapé under crystal candelabra at their favorite charity gala. These wondrous creatures, having pored over a few disjointed numbers selectively allowed to escape from our struggle with health care, are informing us that there ...

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SGR has been the bane of my time in policy.  And I want it to be yours. SGR, formally known as the sustainable growth rate, is a formula developed under none other than the Balanced Budget Act (the same one that set the cap for GME-funded residency slots at 100,000) to determine the Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement payments to physicians.  And because the universe loves a good ...

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shutterstock_141318316 I understand that there is a difference between perception and reality.  I also get that the kind of people one meets on a tropical vacation in the middle of March are of a certain economic and sociopolitical status. Nonetheless, I am amazed at how history seems to repeat itself.  Year after year, while sitting in the shade and relaxing by the pool, ...

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As we begin the journey to value-based health care, the relationships between a hospital and its medical staff are changing. For decades, these relationships were straightforward: doctors admitted patients to the hospital, performed procedures and delivered therapies, and at some point, sent the patients home. This simple formula was the business model for hospitals, and it worked well. Same with the doctors. The hospital would pretty much let us do what ...

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