Dr Lee Newcomer: Comparison Data Is Necessary For More Accurate Results

If physicians had better data systems with better information within their practices, then they could provide more accurate results and improve the care for the patient, explained Lee N. Newcomer, MD, MHA, senior vice president of oncology and genetics at UnitedHealthcare.

Transcript (slightly modified)
What have been some lessons learned as United Health has implemented value-based contracts with providers? And how is the data you gather being used?
Well, all of this is hard work. The first lesson is, you really do need to half a good comparison database and we’ve spent almost 8 years building that database. So, we now have fee-for-service patients where we have clinical information, enough so that we can match the patients that are being cared for by a medical group in our episode program. If we can do that exact match, then we can compare apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges and it makes for a much fairer comparison and more accurate results. But, building the database it tough.

I think the other big barrier is that physicians and practices have never had internal data systems—they don’t know how to measure their own performance. So, when we put them at risk, one of the things they learn very quickly is that they need better information inside their practices. We’re helping with that by providing them claims data to help with that area, but it’s not enough to do that just alone.

So, all of us are learning as we go through this experience, and the good thing is that patients are getting better care because of it.
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