QUALITY MEASUREMENT: VHA Wants To Empower Purchasers
VHA, the 1,650-strong nonprofit hospital alliance, wants to "develop quality measures that mean something to employers," Modern Healthcare reports. The alliance is expected this week to formally announce its Purchaser-Provider Partnership on Health Service Quality, a partnership of "seven purchaser representatives, seven hospital and medical representatives and two independent advisers." Unlike other quality measurement efforts where hospitals or HMOs lay out the standards, the VHA initiative would put "purchasers in the driver's seat ... letting them pick the quality standards." Helen Darling, a VHA advisory committee member and consultant with Watson Wyatt, said: "As a purchaser, we would love to see that information regularly reported by hospitals and made available to the public, within reason." For example, patients and health plans would be able to access a hospital's adverse drug reaction rate.
The VHA will "find out which quality indicators purchasers want" and then make them available. Modern Healthcare reports that most purchasing is made on the basis of cost, with quality a minor -- and sometimes debilitating -- factor. "Many of our hospitals are the perceived quality leaders in the marketplace. Why be the quality leader in the marketplace if you're going to get punished by the purchasers?" asked Dr. Kenneth Smithson, VHA vice president for clinical and customer service quality. "VHA hospitals are confident that if they can demonstrate superior quality, this will translate into a marketing advantage," Modern Healthcare reports (Moore Jr., 6/22 issue).