Practice Variability Project Aims to Help PA Physicians Lead in the Volume to Value Race

To help position Pennsylvania physicians and the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) to take a lead in addressing practice variation, particularly as providers move from volume-based to value-based care, PAMED plans to set up a Task Force on Practice Variability.

Variation in spending and utilization per Medicare beneficiaries across geographic areas and even within provider organizations, has long been documented. Many aspects of health care reform are pushing the field to address such variation, and pressures are accelerating on providers.

PAMED is working with Capital Blue Cross (CBC) on a project to examine practice variations in their coverage territory in collaboration with physicians. The project follows the lead of the Choosing Wisely Campaign, designed to educate patients on health care choices.

To help lead the project, CBC has enlisted Focused Medical Analytics (FMA). CBC and FMA are using two years-worth of data to determine what is driving the cost of care by specialty for a given condition and given procedure.

The first initiative will focus on the use of imaging for patients with GERD. CBC and FMA have identified wide variation by practice and within a practice for this service.

“Variation in spending and use of medical testing and services has long been documented among Medicare recipients,” said Dennis Olmstead, chief strategy officer and medical economist at PAMED, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Business Times. “Now, PAMED and insurer are teaming with FMA to look at the care variations that don’t impact how well the patient does.”

“Not all variation is bad,” he said. “This is about providing quality care.”