Interesting thoughts on Health Care Reform issues

In today’s column by Loren Steffy, the Houston Chronicle’s business writer, the head of US Oncology, a Woodlands based practice management company, touts their efforts to make decisions about what they consider to be reasonable pricing for drugs based on the effectiveness and benefit of the drugs.  See the article here. Steffy likens the approach to accountable care organizations (without defining what that means!  See after the jump).  But to me, it sounds a lot like comparative effectiveness type research, too.  Anyway, the concept is interesting, but it really begs the question why these  companies need to tout this as an innovation when the proposals are already out there. on

OK, a quick note on Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s).  They are basically organizational constructs that manage/coordinate the care of a group of patients.  The basic idea is to tie the treatment together from the GP to specialists to hospitals and make the payment dependent on quality and outcomes measures.  It doesn’t solve the problem of fee for service payment or of the disparity between GP’s and specialists, but it does highlight quality and outcomes measures related to payments, rather than just paying for a service rendered.  For more information, see this article on Medicare ACO’s.

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