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Four tenets for physician incentives

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“Incentives are there to try to change behavior, to try to move things along,” noted John Jenrette, M.D., executive vice president for Cedars-Sinai Medical Network, during a talk on physician incentives, as reported in NEJM Catalyst.

His four tenets of physician incentives and behaviors, reports the NEJM article and video:

  1. Follow the money. ‘Physicians like money and financial incentives, yes, but they’re not at the core, at all. They aren’t. They maybe have this kind of incremental impact if you can put them in the right direction, but I truly believe that if physicians are compensated appropriately for the work they’re doing, the incentives become that icing on the cake, that top performance, the things that we want to pay attention to, want to try to focus on, and reward physicians for that type of behavior.’”
  2. Produce meaningful data. ‘That data has to be accurate, it has to be reliable, it has to be meaningful. If you have walked into a room with a bunch of physicians with data, and they begin to poke thousands of holes into it, you walk out of the room with your tail between your legs, completely discredited, and you will spend so much energy trying to get back there, and even have another conversation. The reliability and meaningfulness of the data and how that applies is important to the why I take care of patients and do the work that I do.”’
  3. Involve physicians. ‘Physicians want to be a part of the process. They want to be in the conversation. ….They want to help guide that and direct it, and make sure the data can be meaningful and helpful to their practices and the work that they do. …”’
  4. Ask why. Jenrette stresses that this fourth tenet is the most important. ”’It goes to the core of why we are physicians, in taking care of our patients, in taking care of families, in creating great outcomes and seeing people live healthy and happy. That’s why we become physicians, and why we need to continue to focus in that direction.”’

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