Hah! This is what we have been waiting for! Economists are now borrowing from the education research literature to develop value-added metrics for physicians. Next, I hope, will be the development of VAMs for lawyers and soon you will hear the screams of outrage not only from the American Medical Association but the American Bar Association. With the economists figuring out metrics to measure these politically powerful professions, teachers won’t be alone in their battle against obsessive compulsive metrical disorder. If only someone would come up with VAM for elected officials! Better yet, how about a VAM for economists? For example, how often do their predictions about the economy come true?

 

Here is how you measure the value-added of physicians according to the link above from the National Bureau of Economic Research:

 

“Despite increasing calls for value-based payments, existing methodologies for determining physicians’ “value added” to patient health outcomes have important limitations. We incorporate methods from the value added literature in education research into a health care setting to present the first value added estimates of health care providers in the literature. Like teacher value added measures that calculate student test score gains, we estimate physician value added based on changes in health status during the course of a hospitalization. We then tie our measures of physician value added to patient outcomes, including length of hospital stay, total charges, health status at discharge, and readmission. The estimated value added varied substantially across physicians and was highly stable for individual physicians. Patients of physicians in the 75th versus 25th percentile of value added had, on average, shorter length of stay (4.76 vs 5.08 days), lower total costs ($17,811 vs $19,822) and higher discharge health status (8% of a standard deviation). Our findings provide evidence to support a new method of determining physician value added in the context of inpatient care that could have wide applicability across health care setting and in estimating value added of other health care providers (nurses, staff, etc).”