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March 2018 (Volume 96)
Lawton Robert Burns
Mark V. Pauly
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Context: There is a widespread belief that the US health care system needs to move “from volume to value.” This transformation to value (eg, quality divided by cost) is conceptualized as a two-fold movement: (1) from fee-for-service to alternative payment models; and (2) from solo practice and freestanding hospitals to medical homes, accountable care organizations, large hospital systems, and organized clinics like Kaiser Permanente.
Methods: We evaluate whether this transformation is happening quickly, shifting risk to providers, lowering costs, and improving quality. We draw on recent evidence on provider payment and organization and their effects on cost and quality.
Findings: Data suggest a low prevalence of provider risk payment models and slow movement toward new payment and organizational models. Evidence suggests the impact of both on cost and quality is weak.
Conclusions: We need to be patient in expecting system improvements from ongoing changes in provider payment and organization. We also may need to look for improvements in other areas of the economy or to accept and accommodate prospects of modest improvements over time.
Keywords: value, cost, quality, payment, organization.
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Volume 96, Issue 1 (pages 57-109) DOI: 10.1111/1468-0009.12312 Published in 2018
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.