Posted by on in NEJM Highlights

Primary care organizations are better ACOs when it comes to achieving savings Initial results from the Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO have been disappointing pointing to small to negligible net effects on net spending, but a clever analysis digging into the details shows that there is a silver lining. The key insight is to distinguish between ACOs that are health systems and those that are physician practice groups: health systems show no net savings (after bonus incentive payments) while physician group ACOs do. In the physician group ACOs, the savings are driven in roughly equal measure by inpatient care,… Read More

Posted by on in NEJM Highlights

Adaptive clinical trials slowly coming of age In an adaptive clinical trial, the protocol of the trial is allowed to change in a pre-specified manner during the study based on on-going study events.  In this issue of the NEJM, two research papers, one perspective, and one editorial are devoted to the I-SPY 2 trials which dynamically changed randomization procedures for neo-adjuvant (pre-surgery) chemotherapy for stage II and III breast cancer and allowed accelerated identification of subgroups that benefit from a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor (neratinib – Puma Biotechnology) and a PARP inhibitor (veliparib – Abbvie).  Adaptive trials are described in… Read More

Posted by on in NEJM Highlights, Population Health

Disappointing interim results from two ACA experiments Two papers reporting results from ACA experiments – the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) Initiative in which primary practices were incentivized with fairly generous payments to strengthen care management activities such as management of chronic conditions, or coordination of care – and the ACO initiatives (2012 cohort) described elsewhere in many reviews. Both papers provide a view on the early impact of these initiatives (2 years out) on costs and outcomes by using well controlled no-intervention comparison groups. The upshot is that so far, the CPC and ACO (v. 2012) initiatives do not show… Read More

Posted by on in Providers

In a recent study, Ryan, Shortell, et al analyzed the composition of PCP compensation (broken down into salary, productivity and quality/other components) across practices with ACO contracts vs. those with more traditional business models.   This note will: provide a quick summary of results offer an alternative interpretation of the data describe two methodological points regarding the data set The major finding As of 2012/2013, there are no major systematic differences in how PCPS are paid in ACO practices vs. others.  Whether in an ACO or not, PCPs were paid on average ~50% on salary, ~45% on productivity and 5%… Read More

Posted by on in NEJM Highlights

Early results of the ACO experiment: directionally right, but impact is still small In this study, the authors compare metrics for Medicare beneficiaries assigned to the 32 ACOs part of the Pioneer program vs. matched beneficiaries who were not in an ACO.  With respect to costs, they find that compared to contemporaneous trends observed in non-ACO members, the ACO beneficiaries yearly spending was approximately $100 below trend (a 1% savings). In a hint of a reversal of a secular trend in health care, office spending visit expenditure increased more in ACOs, while it was the reverse for hospital-based services which… Read More

Posted by on in Payers, Providers

CMS has issued a “Request for Applications” describing its Next Generation (NG) ACO. The model makes progress on three issues that have generated plenty of analytical handwringing from MedPAC and the broader ACO community. It also signals a strategy to set ACOs up to compete more directly with Medicare Advantage (MA). (1) Enhancing predictability The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and Pioneer ACO models had different approaches to solving the same business parameters. With NG, CMS has generally picked the ones which enhance simplicity and predictability (see table). For example, Retrospective beneficiary reconciliation used by MSSP meant that… Read More

Posted by on in Providers

A few days ago, Cleveland Clinic announced the formation of the Midwest Health Collaborative (“the Collaborative”), a new company jointly managed by six Ohio delivery systems across the state. The company’s goals are to share best practices, collaborate to reduce costs (e.g., procurement synergies) and “explore the business case” for developing a state-wide provider network. Notably, the deal was announced just eighteen months after Cleveland Clinic’s key competitor in Ohio, Mercy Health (formerly Catholic Health Partners), announced its own state-wide alliance, Health Innovations Ohio; this new deal also links three major southern Ohio provider systems (which directly compete with… Read More

Posted by on in Payers, Providers

In theory, narrow networks built around a single provider or a network of aligned providers (“provider-orchestrated narrow networks” or “ACO networks”) can pose a much higher stakes threat to non-participating providers than ones assembled solely by payers (i.e., where the payer picks who is in based on cost and rates): They are more likely to achieve broad utilization reduction because participating providers can align on principles, build shared capabilities and coordinate management of specific patients consistently. As a result, discounts can play a smaller role in creating a compelling value proposition for the plan sponsor, preserving better economics for the… Read More

Posted by on in Providers

Summary Boeing is creating a benefit design model which sets up providers to compete for their book of lives via provider-branded narrow networks By offering a choice among competing narrow and full network products, the model may make narrow networks more palatable for employees Narrow networks can produce a volume windfall for providers (e.g., share gain, leakage reduction) and profits from better care management and a risk deal  Providers “pay” for the narrow network opportunity by being lower cost (often via incremental discounts) in hopes that these gains outweigh cannibalization (profits lost on current patients who transition to the narrow… Read More

Posted by on in Biopharma, Payers

In this morning’s New York Times (June 3,2014), Andrew Ross Sorkin asks,“DO drug companies make drugs, OR money”? That’s a fair question in the context of what I’ll call a “fee-for-product” reimbursement regime. Another way to look at this question is, “CAN drug companies make drugs, AND money”? Value has not been an easy sell As the U.S. healthcare services system moves from fee-for-service to a value-based system, the biotech and pharmaceutical (biopharma) industry should have an opportunity to capture more of the value it creates. But with drug costs only ~10% of overall health spending and not… Read More