A physician group practice in St. Louis Park says it can improve patient care while lowering health care costs.
Park Nicollet Health Services will receive nearly $5.7 million in bonus payments under an experimental Medicare program.
The program allows medical providers to share in savings captured by preventing costly complications for patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes. It's part of a federal effort to move away from paying medical providers based on the number of procedures they perform.
Park Nicollet's results show that payment changes can have positive results, said Dr. Steven Connelly, the group's chief medical officer.
"This does argue for changing for our reimbursement model from one that's volume-based to one that's paying for outcomes," Connelly said. "That helps out patients, that helps make health care more affordable and saves money for the taxpayers as well."
Medicare says Park Nicollet met all of the program's quality benchmarks.
One of the programs Park Nicollet created requires some heart patients to daily call the clinic to note their symptoms, which allows nurse case managers to spot early signs of deterioration and intervene.
The bonus payments will help Park Nicollet defray the cost of treating Medicare patients, which reimburses providers less than half of what it costs to treat them.
"We did learn that improving the quality of care that we delivered to our patients enrolled in the project did actually bend the cost curve and reduce health care costs for that patient population," Connelly said. "So we've been able to prove that quality does result in less costly health care expenditures for society if you will."