Letters to the Editor

S.C. catching on to new health-care model


As a result of the United Airlines debacle when a passenger was dragged off a plane, United Continental Holdings said it would adjust its compensation program for senior executives to make it “tied to progress in improving the customer experience.”

Imagine that. Being paid for the quality of your work.

The health-care industry is now catching on to this concept as well.

For half a century, health-care reimbursement has been made through a fee-for-service system. Providers are paid for providing care, regardless of quality or results. The more tests they ordered, patients they saw, procedures they did, the more money they made.

While the vast majority of health-care professionals undoubtedly have their patients’ well-being at heart, they’re also in a system that provides incentives to order more tests and procedures and to take on more patients. This dynamic puts a financial and quality burden on our health system and a financial burden on employers and on those of us whose deductibles continue to increase.

Value-based care is emerging as a solution. It is likely to reshape the business of health care. It centers on patient outcomes and how well providers improve quality of care. Providers must report on specific metrics and demonstrate improvement to get paid. Patients receive more coordinated, higher quality and cost-effective care.

But transitioning from volume-based to value-based payment models has been slow. Providers are being required to report outcomes electronically — a huge expense.

The good news is that the change is happening here in South Carolina. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has encouraged providers to shift to value-based reimbursement through its patient-centered medical home program. The Boeing Co. established a value-based system in its headquarters in Chicago and expanded it to the location in Charleston. Last year, Greenville Health System moved away from a fee-for-service to a value-based care model. BMW and Michelin have taken a proactive approach to managing their employee populations with onsite health clinics and disease-management programs.

The health-care industry is in a state of uncertainty. But one thing is for certain: Value-based care is the future of health care and will continue to evolve with the goal of a better system, with quality care and lower costs for all of us.

Justin Batt