Hospital Industry Officials Unveil Voluntary Quality Reporting System
Consumers will be able to compare hospital performance based on reports of quality indicators under an initiative announced yesterday by the hospital industry, the Washington Post reports. Under the program, presented by the American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, Association of Medical Colleges and other groups, hospitals will voluntarily report outcomes on 10 quality measures for three common conditions: acute heart attacks, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. For example, consumers will be able to track the percentage of patients with weak hearts who receive ACE inhibitors, which have been shown to cut mortality rates. For pneumonia patients, hospitals will report how often a vaccine against pneumococcal bacteria is administered. The reports initially will track procedures at hospitals and will not reveal patient outcomes, such as deaths, prolonged hospitalization and damage to bodily function. Beginning next summer, the collected data will be released in report cards posted on a Web site managed by CMS (Brown, Washington Post, 12/13). The initiative also will include a patient survey that will gauge patient experiences at hospitals (AP/USA Today, 12/13). Patients will be asked to complete the survey when they are discharged, and the results will be available on the CMS Web site (Washington Post, 12/13). CMS will also conduct pilot projects in New York, Maryland and Arizona on the best ways to communicate with patients about hospital quality of care. "Our pilot project will measure the real-world impact of the 10 initial quality measures," CMS Administrator Tom Scully said (HHS release, 12/12).
The effort is a "breakthrough" for hospitals and consumer groups, which have long been debating how to measure hospital performance. The Post reports that hospitals agreed to make the data public because it focuses only on the "process" of providing treatment and not patient outcomes. "The preoccupation with outcomes has held up this movement for years," Dennis O'Leary, president of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, said. He added that while the 10 measures are a "modest beginning," the goal is to expand the project to cover additional hospital data. "Once you've done the first 10, the next 10 are much easier," he said (Washington Post, 12/13). Although hospital participation in the program is voluntary, O'Leary said that JCAHO will provide a "gentle incentive," adding, "We intend to make it known who's participating in this and who's not" (AP/USA Today, 12/13). John Rother, director of policy for the AARP, said there will be a push to add outcome measurements to the project. "Consumers are going to want to know who's getting well, and who isn't, at a particular institution," he said (Washington Post, 12/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.