Health-care experts call for move away from volume-based approach

TRENTON – A shift from volume-based care, increased use of electronic records, and provider consolidation are some of the trends that will be seen as health care issues are addressed over the next few years, a panel of experts told an audience of more than 170 Tuesday.

Physicians, hospital executives, and government officials raised these issues as they addressed the necessity of changing the health care delivery model during a seminar at the Trenton Marriott hotel on “New Jersey: State of Health,’’ presented by the Council on State Public Affairs.

Dr. James Barr,  medical director of the Central Jersey Physician Network IPA and Partners in Care, said that primary care physicians have the greatest control over costs because they are the patient’s first point of contact.

Barr, who has 25 years experience in a family practice situated near the Somerset/Hunterdon county border, said that they have made a transition in their office that he considered crucial.

They are no longer volume-based, he said. Doctors do not spend their day running from room to room, seeing as many patients as possible. Instead, he said there is better coordination among doctors and their support staff.

“I actually got to sit and talk to a patient,’’ he said.

In line with that improved coordination among staff of one office is improved coordination systemwide, said Colleen Woods, the health IT coordinator for the governor’s office.

She said the state is increasing electronic record-keeping while guarding patient privacy, but still working toward a goal of greater sharing of information among physicians and hospitals someday.

New Jersey has traditionally lagged in this regard, she said.

But as the state improves health care delivery from an episodic, fragmented, case by case approach to something more coordinated, there will be casualties.

“Some providers will ‘die’ along the way,” said Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. That small, one- or two-physician practice that refuses to join with a larger group may not survive, he said.

And Barr said the profit-driven days of a doctor ordering five tests when two will suffice have to end. “Monitor us,’’ he said to the audience. “Make  us more accountable. Reward doctors for doing the right thing.’’

Earlier in the day, the audience heard from Jennifer Velez, commissioner of the state Department of Human Services, and Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge. Health-care experts call for move away from volume-based approach