Wall Street Journal Examines Federal Quality Improvement Organizations
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined recent criticism of the federal health care quality-improvement program that seeks to educate health care providers on best practices in medicine.
According to the Journal, the government has spent more than $2 billion on the past two rounds of Quality Improvement Organization contracts, and critics say there is little evidence that the money is "being well-spent." A study of the program published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association -- which analyzed data on the care for heart attack, stroke and other patients in five states -- found no difference in quality between hospitals that participated in the program and those that did not.
Although criticism of the quality-improvement program has increased, CMS in August will begin awarding $1.2 billion in a new round of three-year contracts to QIOs, asking recipients to "sharply accelerate" their education efforts, according to the Journal. Grant recipients will be asked to:
- Increase efforts to investigate claims of fraud and denial of care;
- Promote the adoption of electronic medical records; and
- Collaborate with hospitals nationwide to improve surgical and inpatient care and reduce the number of heart attack, congestive heart failure and pneumonia patients.
The federal government has begun an effort to evaluate the efficacy of the program under a directive in the 2003 Medicare law in part to address the recent criticism. The Institute of Medicine is due to report back early next year on whether Medicare should continue the program, and if so, whether it should seek other types of organizations to bid for the quality contracts (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 7/6). 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.