Physician network looking for ways to improve care
The impact of the Affordable Care Act is not limited to health plans. Health-care providers nationally are also looking at ways to improve patient care that should, ultimately, reduce waste and cut costs.
Dr. Richard Bikowski, a family physician and geriatrician in Portsmouth, is the medical director for the Sentara Quality Care Network. Begun about a year and a half ago, the network now includes 2,300 doctors. About 40 percent are primary-care physicians, with specialists making up the remaining 60 percent. “We expected we might have interest from about 600, and we got 2,300 who elected to participate,” says Bikowski.
The group is looking at how providers can improve care and where the gaps are. “The whole premise of the American health-care system is that it’s based on a doctor and patient being in a room together,” says Bikowski. “That’s how we’re paid. I have to see the patient and something needs to get done.”
That personal interaction is still important, he says, but it’s very limited. Once the 20-minute appointment is over, the patient continues to need health-care management services. “It takes a team of nurses, physician assistants and a data-care management system that works when I’m not available,” he says. “It also takes a different payment model that covers all these services.”