[…] I can obviously see how this structure can result in lower costs, and I particularly like the fact that it will be paying primary care doctors for “non-visit” services that are not currently reimbursed (the example given in the press release is “preparing care plans for patients with multiple and complex conditions” but I can see how this could be extended to other areas of care and could help to move away from the current ten minute visit + diagnosis + prescription scenario that is so common). But particular care will need to be taken to make sure that the end result is truly healthier patients, as well as lower healthcare costs.
A measure of patient satisfaction could also be beneficial here. This is a tough one though, as patients might tend to have less of a focus on the overall picture (outcome + cost) and more focus on the factors that directly and immediately impact them, such as outcome and convenience. Cost is a factor for patients, but since most of us have health insurance, we tend to be largely insulated from the immediate costs of our healthcare. We get the annual rate increase notification or a letter from our employer saying that our deductible and copays are going up, but most patients probably don’t consider how their own healthcare usage directly impacts the overall “big picture” of healthcare spending (and thus the resulting health insurance premium hikes). But in general, a program that results in an overall improvement in patient health and lower costs should also end up with satisfied patients. Things like more face-time with their primary care doctor (who is being compensated for keeping the patient healthy, not just fixing problems once they occur) ought to improve patients’ overall perception of the care they are receiving. […]