Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), a nonprofit group that includes providers, payers and patients, will soon ask Medicaid recipients to rate their doctor visits. The state will make the final results public and will base provider payments on the data.
Nearly 250,000 low-income and disabled patients will get questions about communication with the doctor and office staff, mental health treatment and long-term care services. MHQP believes the data will help lead to more "patient-centered, outcomes-based care."
Healthcare consumerism is prevalent in private insurance and Medicare Advantage, but the Massachusetts initiative is believed to be the first in Medicaid.
Healthcare consumerism is a growing trend for payers, providers and hospitals, but the trend until now has skipped the Medicaid population, despite its increasing importance in covering more Americans. Medicaid expansion alone covers about 15 million Americans.
The questions follow significant changes for MassHealth, as the state's Medicaid program is called. MassHealth kicked off an accountable care organization model with 17 organizations a year ago and has 850,000 of its 1.86 million Medicaid recipients in ACOs. The ACOs are held financially accountable for cost, quality and member experience.
MHQP, which conducted a smaller survey for six pilot ACOs last year, will offer an expanded survey to all of them this year. The first survey focused on primary care visits. This year, MHQP will drill down further into primary care, as well as behavioral health and long-term services.
The scores will be part of quality measures that the commonwealth will use to adjust payments to MassHealth ACOs. Massachusetts will base payments on meeting pre-established thresholds, performance and showing improvement over time.
The state will provide survey results on an ACO-level rather than provider-level, at least initially. The department of health is expected to release the patient survey information in 2020.
The results won't include as much information as what is released by private insurers and Medicare Advantage. For instance, MassHealth won't have additional cost and quality data available for members that are common with other insurers.
Other areas of the healthcare industry continue to put more weight on consumerism. U.S. News & World Report recently announced it's replacing patient safety indicators with patient satisfaction results for its best hospitals and specialties lists. In many ways, consumerism has grown from an industry buzzword to a key pillar of healthcare. NRC Health's 2019 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report said patients desire ease, convenience and choice to a provider's quality of care.
Health system executives are also responding to this trend. A recent Kaufman Hall survey of 200 hospitals and healthcare executives discovered that 90% of respondents said improving customer experience is a high priority. That was up from just 30% a year prior.