Baptist Health Partners With 250 Doctors to Gather Patient Data

Baptist Health in Little Rock announced Tuesday that it has partnered with physicians to collect data on procedures that will be used to improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs.

"We're going to have data that has not been previously available for how physicians are performing," said Dr. Chris Cate at the news conference. "And with that data, we will then take benchmarks and ask physicians to meet or exceed those benchmarks."

So far about 250 doctors have joined the Baptist Health Physician Partners, said Cate, who is the chairman of its board of managers.

The data, which is being collected now, will include information such as patient readmissions and length of stays in the hospital.

Each specialty then will develop a standard of medical care, said Russ Harrington Jr., president and CEO of Baptist Health.

The doctors will be measured on how "closely they adhere to those standards and how they improve those standards on an annual basis."

The goal of the program isn't to remove doctors from the hospital but to improve them, he said.

Harrington said the patients should receive better care, which will reduce health care costs.

Under health care reform, hospitals and doctors will have to demonstrate lower costs while providing high quality care, which will be key metrics in governmental and commercial reimbursements.

"The pressure to save money right now in health care is tremendous," Cate said.

Last week, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville announced it would become the first self-insured employer to participate in the Arkansas Payment Improvement Initiative, which will collect quality information and costs for procedures.

The APII is designed to reward doctors and hospitals who keep a lid on health care costs while providing high-quality care. Under APII, providers who meet specified cost and quality targest will share savings with the payer, such as Medicaid. While health care providers whose costs exceed the targets could have repay a part of the excess costs back to the payers.

Cate said he hopes that with the information collected from Baptist, he'll be able to go to health insurance companies and demonstrate the quality of care that is being done.

"We think they're going to see that not only is it beneficial and better care for their patients, but it's also cost effective," he said.