MEDICARE: Peer Review Quality Initiatives Pay Off
Quality improvement projects undertaken by hospitals and HMOs to improve the care provided to Medicare beneficiaries can increase access to appropriate care, reduce deaths and cut costs, according to the first national report on QIOs. Also called peer review organizations, quality improvement organizations are funded by HCFA and collaborate with hospitals, health plans, employers and community coalitions to assess and improve quality in Medicare. The report, released last week by the American Health Quality Association and entitled "A Pillar of Quality: The Medicare Peer Review Organization/Quality Improvement Organization Program," includes data from 498 projects conducted between April 1996 and March 1998. The report found that 87% of completed projects resulted in measurable improvements in care quality. Some of the reports' highlights:
- QIOs involved in the Cooperative Cardiovascular Project, a national program dedicated to the improvement of hospitals' heart attack care, have reduced heart attack deaths among Medicare beneficiaries by 10%;
- QIO efforts in 20 states have prevented an estimated 1,285 strokes per year;
- QIO diabetes-related efforts have saved HCFA an estimated $325 million per year;
- QIO partnerships with historically African-American colleges and universities in eight southern states increased the overall flu immunization rate 5.4%;
- QIO-inspired efforts by hospitals to boost the number of pneumonia patients who receive antibiotics within the first four hours after admittance have decreased inpatient mortality.