The American journal of managed care

Physician behavior impact when revenue shifted from drugs to services.

PMID 24884861


In partnership with a large nonprofit healthcare insurer for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, we launched the first cancer clinical pathway in the United States in August 2008. Due to its early success with regard to savings and physician participation and compliance, a second-generation pathways program-the Oncology Medical Home-was piloted in 2011. This program offered a physician reimbursement model that shifted the source of revenue from drug reimbursement margin to professional charges for cognitive services (evaluation and management codes). We report our observations of the impact of that reimbursement model on physician prescribing behavior. This was a retrospective analysis. A select group of practices that participated in the first-generation pathways program were invited to voluntarily participate in the Oncology Medical Home and its cognitive weighted reimbursement design. A matched control group was chosen from the first-generation pathways participants. Comparisons of physician behavior parameters were made pre- and postimplementation and between the Oncology Medical Home practices and the first-generation pathways control group. Physician behavior was not significantly modified by cognitive weighted reimbursement. No significant change in frequency of office visits for established patients was observed. No change in chemotherapy prescribing was observed. Observed increases in generic regimen use were no different than matched control. Observations from this oncology medical home pilot program suggest that reimbursement methodology alternatives to the prevailing fee-for-service may have less impact on prescribing behavior than has been conjectured. Future research is ongoing to validate these observations and assess additional influences on prescribing behavior.