MID-CITY When seeking healthcare, the UCLA Medical Group continues to provide some of the best services around.

One of the largest networks of medical professionals in the Los Angeles area was recently named in the top 20 percent of physician organizations in the state, receiving the honor for the fourth consecutive year.

The UCLA Medical Group operates more than 60 offices in the L.A. region, the majority of which are concentrated in Westwood. About a dozen primary care offices and 10 specialty centers are located in the city, which is also home of the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital.

The Integrated Healthcare Association, a nonprofit statewide organization of physician groups and healthcare systems, announced the top performing centers last week, basing its recognitions on results from the Pay for Performance (P4P) program in which health plans offer incentive payments to groups for excellent care.

UCLA was among 46 medical groups recognized from the state and one of 10 from the Los Angeles area. More than 230 physician groups participate in the program.

The P4P program was instituted in 2003 to create a standardized way of measuring the performance of all healthcare providers, offering payments for those who excel beyond others in the areas of clinical quality, patient satisfaction and the use of health information technology, according to Dolores Yanagi Hara, the program director for Pay for Performance.

The result of the program was uniformity in the measures used by different health plans.

“For a same type of measure like breast cancer screening, sometimes a group could look good on one plan but not good on another,” Yanagi Hara said.

Seven health plans, including Blue Shield of California and United Healthcare, participate in the program, each of which come up with their own formula to determine payments based on performance. These health plans dished out more than $212 million to physician groups from 2003-2006 for meeting performance targets.

Dr. Samuel Skootsky, the medical director of the UCLA Medical Group and Faculty Practice Group, said the program has allowed his physicians to improve on the services they provide.

“Even before (the program) we were above average,” Skootsky said. “Now we’re better.”

The program has also opened up channels of information for the practice.

“There is an intense national effort to begin providing and acting on the kind of care measures in which the UCLA Medical Group already excels,” Dr. Thomas E. Sibert, the president of the UCLA Faculty Practice and Medical Group, said. “We are proud to continue to do as well for our patients as we have, and we continue to commit to be at the vanguard of this kind of activity.”

The UCLA Medical Group stands out for its leadership and foresight to make investments early on that will support quality care, Yanagi Hara said.

Physician organizations like UCLA have also excelled because of its willingness to incorporate technology into their systems, she added.

“I think it is important to have a culture of quality and focus on providing excellent care,” she said.

melodyh@smdp.com

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