Bundled payments are one of the hot topics in the health care industry, and have been for some time. But now there’s evidence that doctors are finally ready to implement them – and that these models underscore clinical success, as well.
At its core, health care is – or should be – about the patient. Yet many providers’ reimbursement models are based not on quality of care, but type and quantity. The renewed focus on treatment outcomes means bundled payments are finally beginning to see an increase in adoption, if not yet fully replacing fee-for-service models. Consultancy Strategy& conducted research into bundles’ rise and found that, across the board, physicians are ready to embrace them going forward.
In fact, half of physicians are interested in bundled payments. The same goes for 78% of hospitals and 80% of payers. Much of that interest is due to rising consumer demand. In another report from Strategy&, the authors suggest that a large part of the initial push for bundled payments has come from consumers.
“Major employers and plan sponsors are providing real-world impetus for bundles by negotiating attractive prices with regional and national provider systems and offering financial incentives to employees to use those services. The idea of high-quality bundles carrying warranties at fixed prices is an easy winner in consumers’ minds.”
Consumers see bundles as somewhat of a treatment guarantee – pay this much, and you’ll receive this outcome. But it’s not just a case of demand. Bundled care actively reduces costs by improving quality of care and thus lessening the likelihood of costly readmissions. A Rand Health report highlights how in a fee-for-service system, “there is little incentive to reduce unnecessary care,” and “the use of bundled payment mechanisms promotes a more efficient use of services.”
Because bundled payments include all procedures for a specified care path, they ensure that funds are not wasted on excess or unnecessary treatments. And the data agrees. 40% of hospitals reported savings of 5% or more after implementing bundled payments, and more than 80% have seen better patient engagement, alignment with physicians and reduced administrative costs.
Bundles are a relatively new idea in health care, but given results so far their future is promising, with 60% of payers looking to expand their bundling efforts according to the Strategy& report. Time will tell, and nothing is set in stone, but for many patients and providers bundled payments are the best option for the highest quality care and a more patient-focused industry.