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Mass. Medical Society survey: More doctors embracing new payment models

Doctors in Massachusetts may be looking a bit more favorably on new payment methods created under state and federal laws, according to a survey of 1,095 practicing physicians by the Massachusetts Medical Society.

About 49 percent of respondents said they are likely to participate in a voluntary global payment system, in which doctors are paid a fixed rate to manage the care of a group of patients. That’s up from 42 percent in 2011, the first year that questions about the new payment methods were included in the annual survey. Those who worked at community health centers were most open to the idea of global payments, and self-employed physicians were least likely to participate.

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Sixty percent of respondents, up from about half last year, said they are likely to participate in voluntary accountable care organizations, in which a network of providers coordinate patient care and agree to assume financial risk in insurance contracts. Seventy-one percent of primary care doctors said they were willing to participate, compared with 61 percent of specialists.

Doctors in a single-specialty practice were less likely to embrace ACOs than those in a multi-specialty group or a teaching hospital.

The survey “bodes well” for health care reform in the state, Dr. Richard Aghababian, the society’s president, said in a press release.

“While we are heartened by the law’s provisions for medical liability reforms and preventive care, just how the law will affect our physician workforce and to what degree is unknown at this time,” he said.

Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press reported on the society’s full report, which also tracks workforce demand:

Shortages in internal medicine, psychiatry, urology and neurosurgery met the study’s criteria of ‘‘critical.’’ Three other specialties were classified as ‘‘severe”— family medicine, dermatology and general surgery.

The medical society also found what it called ‘‘mixed results regarding the recruitment and retention of physicians in the state.’’

The study said more than 94 percent of community hospitals reported significant difficulty in filling vacancies. That’s compared with about 7 percent of the state’s teaching hospitals reporting similar difficulties.

See the full report on the medical society’s website.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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