While bundled payments promise cost reductions and better quality care, simply adopting them within a pre-existing structure will not magically fix every problem providers and healthcare organizations face. The implementation and management process when adopting new payment models is vital to ensuring their success. Getting those steps right sets the stage for continued benefits down the road for both patients and providers.
According to a report from the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3), there are certain steps that providers can take to ensure success when implementing a bundled payment program. New, patient-focused models can develop a culture in which attention to detail is the norm. Some of the key actions that the report highlights as crucial to bundles’ success include:
- Emphasizing leadership that focuses on a unified patient care vision
- Mapping patient progress and identifying deviations from the expected treatment pathway
- Tracking costs and utilization
- Making use of a quality improvement model
- Integrating unaffiliated post-acute providers into treatment
- Adapting organizational structure to support changes in care delivery
- Consistently communicating with patients
Does that sound familiar? Those points look a lot like a description of effective care coordination. Bundled payments are a logical step toward more patient-centered care because they reimburse providers not for quantity but for quality. Fee-for-service models may be logistically easier, but they often lack the consistent outcomes and peace of mind that bundled payments bring to the table.Proper care coordination is vital to bundled payments’ success because the best outcomes come from holistic care. And that is exactly what bundles bring to the table. Coordination unites disparate aspects of the treatment journey under one umbrella, bridging the gap between patients and providers and ensuring that outcomes are the focus. Bundles do the same, but for specific combinations of treatments and services. Further, coordinated care also reduces costs along the entire care pathway. The benefits of coordination are clear, and when combined with bundled payments have great potential to reshape many patients’ treatment for the better.