QUALITY MEASUREMENT: Three Leading Groups Form Alliance
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the American Medical Accreditation Program and the National Committee for Quality Assurance yesterday announced that they will collaborate to form "a 15-member Performance Measurement Coordinating Council" to "evaluate doctors, hospitals and managed care organizations," the Wall Street Journal reports. Participants say the effort "is intended to ease the burden of collecting quality data," to produce "more apples-to-apples comparisons for the public," to make sure "all the links in the health care chain focus on improving their records on well-established measures" and "to raise the level of care" (Jeffrey, 5/20). "Independently, our organizations are working aggressively to develop rigorous performance measurement programs for different levels of the health care system," said NCQA President Margaret O'Kane. "Working together, we can make performance measurement not only much less burdensome, but also more meaningful to consumers, employers and health care professionals," she added. Dr. Randolph Smoak Jr., chair of the AMAP Governing Body, said, "The work of the PMCC will start a positive chain reaction. More efficient measurement will lead to broader participation in accreditation programs, which will lead to quality improvement, which will lead to better care and service. Ultimately, patients and the public are the real winners." Dr. Dennis O'Leary, President of JCAHO, said, "This is an exciting opportunity to pool and collectively expand our quality measurement expertise in service of the public interest" (release, 5/19).
Individual Roles And Group Goals
The JCAHO accredits hospitals, nursing homes and home-health-care agencies, the NCQA accredits HMOs and the AMAP sets physician standards (Wall Street Journal, 5/20). Functioning under the PMCC umbrella, the group will collectively measure health plan member satisfaction, immunization rates, cervical cancer screening rates, caesarean section rates, mammography screening rates, accessibility of care, cost, utilization rates and average office wait times. PMCC plans to keep costs for data collection down by "coordinating identification and/or development of groups of 'universal' measures; ... standardizing data requirements for different measurement systems; devising means of coordinating measurement activities among physicians, organizational providers, facilities and health plans; establishing more efficient verification and data quality assurance systems; and developing guidelines for the appropriate use of performance data." The PMCC will also address standardization of risk adjustment techniques. The PMCC will convene for the first time this summer (release, 5/19).