Initially, Medicare data posted on its Hospital Compare website (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) showed a wide hospital-to-hospital variation in mortality rates for pneumonia, heart attacks, and congestive heart failure. But since then, Schoen says, most outliers on the low end have improved dramatically, even though the only payment incentive was to encourage reporting. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is dropping some core measures from its hospital value-based purchasing program.
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Public reporting of quality measures, especially mortality rates, is certainly not without controversy. But Schoen says that if handled properly, disseminating information that suggests a facility’s performance is subpar can tap into the professionalism of its staff and create a strong incentive among them to do better. “That’s something true both internationally and in the U.S.,” she says.
In the U.S., Schoen says, the basic questions asked of patients in the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) portion of Medicare’s new VBP system represent a good start. But the experiences of other countries, she says, suggest that patient reporting should be directed more at outcomes, similar to a proposal left out of last year’s healthcare reform bill that would have created a feedback system for patients receiving implantable medical devices.
Even so, hospitals like Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., are instituting patient feedback systems on their own, and a National Institutes of Health Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) initiative is gaining traction. “It’s less blaming, and it’s more informing,” Schoen says.
Bryn Nelson is a freelance medical writer based in Seattle.
- Johnson JT, Neill KK, Davis DA. Five-year examination of utilization and drug cost outcomes associated with benefit design changes including reference pricing for proton pump inhibitors in a state employee health plan. J Manag Care Pharm. 2011;17:200-212.
Originally published in The Hospitalist (2011;15(7):28). Reprinted with permission.