It’s no secret health care clinicians increasingly are being called on to provide
low-cost, high-quality care. Many, however, feel hamstrung.
“Everyone is talking about the high cost of care, but few are giving specific data
to physicians on how to manage it,” said Suzanne K. Berman, M.D., FAAP, a member of
the AAP Committee on Child Health Financing (COCHF) and Section on Administration
and Practice Management Executive Committee. “This is not unlike telling people they
need to eat better, but then refusing to let them read the nutrition information on
Dr. Berman aims to provide pediatricians with specific suggestions on how they can
minimize costs during a session titled “Pediatric Purse Strings: How to Predict the
Cost of Care (F3082),” which will be held from 2-2:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in room
W311GH of the convention center.
Dr. Berman acknowledges that individual pediatricians may have little immediate influence
over many of the biggest drivers of cost such as extreme prematurity, obesity and
neonatal abstinence syndrome.
“That said, there is still a significant set of cost drivers which are entirely (or
almost entirely) within the physician’s purview, such as a choice between two medications
which work comparably in most clinical situations; choice of imaging when either will
do; choice of referral centers and choice of lab testing algorithms,” she said.
The session will focus on these manageable cost drivers.
“I’m going to try to give all attendees at least three to four actionable, needle-moving
tips that can be immediately implemented,” said Dr. Berman, managing partner, Plateau
Pediatrics, Crossville, Tenn.
Dr. Berman calls herself a data geek and has a long history of using data to influence
“My earliest memory of attempting to improve an operational system was fifth grade,
when I made notes about all the ways Field Day was done wrong and submitted a list
of suggestions for immediate implementation to my amused teacher,” she said.
Since then, she has gained insights into health care payment systems by working with
COCHF and by providing feedback to Tennessee’s value-based Medicaid programs.
“Pediatricians can take simple steps to be mindful of costs,” she said. “There are
certainly broader, larger quality improvement projects pediatricians can pursue, but
even a small handful of very modest changes can improve the total cost of care.”