CAPP Urges Standardization of Quality Measurements

The U.S. healthcare system has made significant strides in measuring the quality of care that providers deliver, but the lack of coordination among industry players has led to a surfeit of measures that often confuse consumers and burden physicians. That’s the conclusion of “Moving the Needle to Meaningful Health Care Quality Measurement,” the first in CAPP’s three-part series of white papers, Implementing Health System Improvement.

The uncoordinated growth of quality measurement initiatives creates multiple parallel systems with hundreds of measures.  Moreover, medical practices report that individual physicians spend an average of 785 hours per calendar year complying with reporting requirements for external quality initiatives — enough time to care for nine additional patients each week.

“Improving and standardizing quality health measures can translate into gains in the overall health of patients and efficiencies throughout the entire system,” said CAPP Vice-Chair Norman Chenven, M.D., Founding CEO of the Austin Regional Clinic in Austin, Texas. “Patients and payers could have better information for choosing providers, government organizations could assess which quality initiatives are generating real benefits, and physicians could have more time for patient care.”

The report recommends that quality measures be winnowed down from several hundred to two dozen, with an emphasis on measures for preventive care through immunizations and screenings; management of chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure and diabetes; and other areas where better performance translates into meaningful health improvements. Outcomes should also be measured more definitively. For example, asthmatics should not just be measured on whether they received their medication, but whether they take it, whether they suffered any asthma attacks, and whether they were able to undertake their normal exercise regimen.

While noting that the new “Meaningful Measures” initiative from CMS has the potential for progress in this area, the report also urges that policymakers take additional steps to streamline reporting of quality metrics. As the nation moves forward with care delivery reform, these consistent measures will make it easier for physicians and providers to assess the quality of care they provide and for payers to assess whether that care provides real value.

The entire report may be downloaded here.

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