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Pilot program may improve care, lower Medicare costs

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. Physicians at 10 large group practices in 10 states are participating in a pilot program that tries to save money and deliver better care to patients who are on Medicare, according to the Tennessean.

The four-year pilot program tests whether an approach called “pay for performance” can slow the growth of Medicare by using new innovations like electronic health records to provide better health care to patients. The project focuses on patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.

In 2006, the project’s first year, Medicare saved about $9.5 million. This is key to the program because, if physicians can save at least 2 percent over what Medicare would have spent on patients outside the project, they get an annual bonus. Two practices, the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin and the University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice in Ann Arbor shared $7.3 million in performance payments, by being the only practices out of the 10 to beat the savings target.

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