$15B in cumulative savings for physician practices is on the table, study says

According to a study published in Health Affairs, if all physician practices performed at the level of "robust practices," they would save an estimated $14.9 billion on fee-for-service beneficiaries annually.

The study evaluated 2017 claims data linked to 1.51 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries across 1,772 physician practice locations that responded to the 2017 National Survey of Healthcare Organizations and Systems, Medical Economics reported March 16. Researchers used the data to categorize practices as having "robust," "mixed," or "limited" capabilities. 

Physician practices with better technology, patient care, management and culture — the robust practices — spend less on Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, the study said. Researchers also found practices owned by hospital systems and medical groups had lower Medicare fee-for-service spending.

"The additive effect of system-group ownership and practice-level capabilities on total spending underscores that system-level support may contribute to managing spending," the Medical Economics report said.

Researchers acknowledged that quality and utilization did not differ significantly between practices of different capabilities, and that there is not yet a gold standard for measuring practice capabilities, the study said. 

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