Authors: Kaye DR, Ye Z, Li J, Herrel LA, Dupree JM, Ellimoottil C, Miller DC
Title: The Stability of Physician-Specific Episode Costs for Urologic Cancer Surgery: Implications for Urologists Under the Merit-Based Incentive Program.
Journal: Urology 123:114-119
Date: 2019 Jan
PubMed ID: 30125647
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the stability of physician-specific episode payments for prostatectomy, nephrectomy, and cystectomy in the context of value-based purchasing programs, such as the merit-based incentive payment system. METHODS: We utilized Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare data to identify patients aged 66-99 who underwent a prostatectomy, nephrectomy, or cystectomy from 2008 to 2012. We calculated each surgeon's average 90-day episode payment by procedure. Next, we examined payment differences between the most and least expensive quartile providers. For the most expensive quartile of physicians in 2010, we examined their spending quartile in 2011. Finally, we evaluated the correlation in spending over time and across procedures. RESULTS: We identified 14,585 patients who underwent surgery by one of 1895 unique clinicians. Differences in payments between the highest and lowest quartiles were $5881, $17,714, and $40,288 for prostatectomy, nephrectomy, and cystectomy, respectively. Only 39%, 16%, and 13% of physicians that were in the highest spending quartile for prostatectomy, nephrectomy, and cystectomy in 2010 were also in the most expensive quartile in 2011. Although we observed weak correlation in year-to-year spending for prostatectomy (0.108, P = .033 to .270, P < .001), annual payments for nephrectomy and cystectomy were not significantly correlated. Finally, there was minimal correlation in surgeon spending across procedures. CONCLUSION: There is wide variation in physician-specific episode payments for prostatectomy, nephrectomy, and cystectomy. However, physician spending patterns are not stable over time or across procedures, raising concerns about the ability of the cost-based measures in merit-based incentive payment system to change physician behavior and reliably distinguish those providing less efficient or lower quality care.