Study Raises Questions About â€œBundlingâ€ for Doctors
Could paying fees to doctors for each service lead to unnecessary medical care? Thatâ€™s what advocates of â€œbundling,â€ in which providers get a set amount for each episode of care suggest. But a new study published in Health Affairs suggests that bundling may be difficult to implement and maintain.
Researchers, from the Rand Corporation and the Harvard School of Public Health looked at three sites that were trying to implement a bundling methodology developed by the nonprofit Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. They found that the efforts moved along slowly, with none of the providers receiving a bundled payment in the two to three years of study.
Software errors and issues with the claims departments made it difficult to develop payment rates, while insurersâ€™ processes for processing claims didnâ€™t work well with bundling methods. One of the sites mentioned in the study now has a contract for bundled knee-replacement payments that will take effect in January.