Physician practices are engaging in new health care payment models intended to improve quality and reduce costs, but need help managing increasing amounts of data and responding to the diversity of programs and quality metrics from different payers, according to a study released yesterday by the RAND Corporation and American Medical Association. “Guided by practical limits on available capital and how much change their physicians could absorb quickly (especially when ‘change’ amounted to ‘more work for each physician’), practice leaders tended to proceed cautiously, prioritizing areas in which multiple payment incentives overlapped with each other and with practices’ internal priorities,” the report states. “For some smaller, independent practices, merging with larger practices or hospitals was an attractive option for accessing the capital necessary to succeed in alternative payment models (and for complying with new regulations, such as meaningful use) and enhancing their ability to control what alternative payment models they faced and how these would affect their physicians.” The findings are based on case studies of 34 practices in six geographic markets.