New Study: Physicians Lack the Right Tools to Close Costly Gaps in Healthcare

Posted by Quest Diagnostics on Jun 26, 2017 3:38:11 PM

The healthcare industry is now years into its shift to value-based care. But how much progress has actually been made? Our new study, Progress on the Path to Value-Based Care, gauges perceptions of physicians and health plan executives on the path to value-based care over the past year and explores the potential keys to accelerating the shift moving forward.

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Progress Has Been Made

The study shows progress has been made over the past year. Since our 2016 study, more physicians and health plan executives believe we have a value-based care system and more physicians said they have the tools to succeed under value-based care. The percentage of physicians and health plan executives who said the U.S. has a value-based care system increased four percentage points over the past year, from 25 percent to 29 percent. Slow, but still forward movement.

Ongoing Misalignment Between Physicians and Plan Executives

The study indicates that misalignment between health plans and physicians may be partly to blame for slowing the pace of value-based care adoption. While 70 percent of health plan executives said progress has been made to better align health plans and providers, only 47 percent of physicians agreed. This misalignment doesn’t necessarily mean objectives are out of sync, however, but rather that actual challenges physicians face at the point of care are underestimated. For example, 53 percent of health plan executives said physicians have the tools they need to succeed under value-based care, but only 43 percent of physicians agreed. More alignment here could lead to new complementary approaches.

The perception gap regarding the availability of tools could be related to perceptions about EHRs. While 75 percent of health plan executives said EHRs have everything physicians need, only 54 percent of physicians agreed. Additionally, 70 percent of physicians said they do not see a clear link between their EHRs and better patient outcomes. More alignment is needed here, too.

A Path Forward for EHRs

Despite not seeing a clear link between EHRs and better patient outcomes, physicians continue to see value. In fact, 71 percent said they’d be willing to spend more time using technology if their EHRs could yield insights unique to their patients. A recent survey by KPMG supports this, finding that 38 percent of CIOs plan to invest in EHR system optimization over the next three years—more than any other area of HIT. Presumably, plans also want more from EHRs, so there is a path forward. But not without changes.

The path forward may also include co-investment in HIT. Eighty-five percent of health plan executives said a co-investment in HIT by health plans and providers would accelerate value-based care. Perhaps health plan executives are mindful of the significant investment required of physicians to implement HIT solutions, especially EHRs, and they see the potential for co-investment to help surmount this challenge. If that’s true, it could be a good starting point for future collaboration.

Overall, the study shows progress toward value-based care. It also shows where gaps still exist that physicians and health plans could address more aggressively through ongoing alignment, especially around important requirements such as tools and EHR efficacy. Only time will tell, but tighter alignment between plans and physicians, extending the value of EHRs, and increasing co-investment of time and resources could be keys to accelerating year-over-year adoption of value-based care.

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