Payment Reform to Enhance Collaboration of Primary Care and Cardiology: A Review

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Abstract

Importance

The US health care system faces an unsustainable trajectory of high costs and inconsistent outcomes. The fee-for-service payment model has contributed to inefficiency, and new payment methods are a promising approach to improving value. Health reforms are needed to increase patient access, reduce costs, and improve health care quality, and the landmark Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act presents a roadmap for reform. The product of a collaboration between primary care and cardiology clinicians, this review describes a conceptual approach to delivery and payment reforms that aim to better support primary care–cardiology comanagement of chronic cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Observations

Few existing alternative payment models specifically address long-term management of CVD. Primary care medical homes and accountable care organizations come closest, but both emphasize primary care, and cardiologists have often not been well engaged. A collaborative care framework should articulate distinct roles and responsibilities for primary care and cardiology in CVD comanagement. Finally, a series of payment models aim to better support clinicians in providing accountable, seamless, and patient-centered cardiac care.

Conclusions & Relevance

Clinical leadership is essential during this time of change in the health care system. Patients often struggle to navigate a fragmented and expensive system, whereas clinicians often practice with incomplete information about tests, treatments, and recommendations by their colleagues. The payment models described in this review offer an opportunity to create more satisfying approaches to patient care while improving value. These models have potential to support more effective coordination and to facilitate broader health care system transformation.

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