Financial Incentives for Docs May Improve Care

Studies looked at types of treatments offered and compared patients' blood pressure control

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In the editorial, Dolor suggests using technology to get patients more involved. For example, they could have access to care portals on the computer. Both patients and providers could receive electronic reminders for follow-up appointments, prescriptions and more. Health management teams in clinical practices could track patients who are struggling with their health goals and focus more attention on them and their needs, Dolor and her co-author suggested.

Incentives in such a system would be targeted at the leadership, she wrote, so that they would be held accountable for the performance of the health management teams.

Technology such as Dolor proposed is already available in some practices. Electronic health records are making their way into most primary care practices, largely due to government incentives to implement this technology. Among other capabilities, electronic health records provide automatic reminders for lab work, prescriptions and follow-up appointments.

A third study in the same issue of the journal found that the use of electronic health records in people with diabetes decreased the number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations significantly. However, there was no reduction in the number of office visits.

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