Category Archives: Quality Outcomes

Quality of care; pay for performance; quality-based reimbursement; case mix index; quality scores; quality report cards; data analytics; value-based purchasing; performance ratings; mortality rates; hospital report cards; POA; present-on-admission; HACs; hospital-acquired conditions; PPRs; potentially preventable readmissions; SOI; severity of illness; ROM; risk of mortality; healthcare reform; HealthGrades; P4P; potentially preventable complications; PPCs; state initiatives; federal funding

Will the “Quantified Self” Change Health Care?

Yes. To achieve real success in population health we need health care consumers to actively engage in the behaviors necessary to secure their health. “Patient” engagement is the holy grail of health care. However, despite decades of research into health behavior and ways to change it, we don’t seem to be any closer. I think that is about to change.

Disruptive technologies are proliferating in response to the new cultural phenomena of the “quantified self.” This movement believes each of us is a rational creature responsive to data and if we can only get enough indisputable facts about our daily life, then we can manage/change our behavior. Therefore, everything in our lives must be tracked.  This assumption is debatable — some people do not need a scale to know if they are gaining weight, a look in the mirror will do. However, for others, including myself, we seem to automatically airbrush that image in the mirror, so a little rude data every now and then may be necessary.

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Situational Awareness – Are we on the same sheet of music?

Maintenance of Situational Awareness, or SA, is crucial to all of our endeavors. It is the perspective and sense of what is going on around us. One would like to say it is an appreciation and evaluation of all that is relevant to the target pursuit plus extra detail to be stored away for access at a later date – often without a direct application in mind. To appreciate all aspects of an endeavor or project is an aspiration, and, depending on the context, unrealistic. In such cases, we depend on team members to help create a shared mental model. Maintaining SA is an active and incessant process. Common speech recognizes this concept in remarks such as “…missing the forest for the trees” or “…functioning with blinders on.” Continue reading

How Performance Incentives Could Fail

American health care continues to rank as the least cost-effective system in the developed world. Why? You might be tempted to say that, until recently, there was no incentive to change. A purely economic view is that the costs to healthcare providers have been greater than the payoff.

The economic landscape is changing. Quality reporting, value-based purchasing, Meaningful Use, risk-based contracts, and other reforms have created rewards and penalties intended to improve the value of health care. Will they work? Well. . . Ask instead, “How could they fail?” Continue reading

System-wide Population Health Management: Bold Results Call for Bold Action

I have the opportunity to travel around the country, interacting with health plans and provider systems as they work out new payment models and new systems of care delivery, and I see an intense interest in these new models coupled with many theories on their pathway to success.

Weighed against the medical literature, three things are apparent:

  • Most of the theories on improvement focus on processes that may have small relevance to outcomes.
  • Most of the interventions at play are in very early stages and are very incremental.
  • Interventions most likely to be linked to big outcomes are culturally challenging and being held at bay for the moment.

A major impact on outcomes requires bold action. Continue reading

Risk Adjustment and Socioeconomic Status – The NQF Task Force Report

I was fortunate to serve on the NQF Task Force on Risk Adjustment for Socioeconomic Status or other Sociodemographic Factors (SDF)i. This report generated more comments than any other NQF Task Force Report – ever. Of the 700 comments received in reaction to the draft report, the vast majority (more than 98%) were in favor. CMS was one of a very small number of institutions opposed to the initial report. While the final report contains significant modifications to the initial report, much of the spirit and substance remains. Continue reading

Oh what a tangled web we weave…The impact of CDI and Coding part II

I previously discussed how selection of principal diagnosis may impact quality. This ripple effect (like a pebble on a pond) may occur when one works in a silo, ignoring other departments such as quality. If only the ripple effect was the lone “offender” in which CDI and coding may impact quality outcomes. Consider a spider web: intricately designed and seeming impervious. However, as strands get broken, the web collapses.

In review, CDI professionals and coders are tasked with obtaining and capturing a complete picture of the patient’s encounter for appropriate reimbursement, accurate reflection of severity of illness (SOI) and risk of mortality (ROM) and outcomes of care. Historical models of CDI programs and coding processes focused predominately on the first two tasks, without acknowledgement of how this may affect quality outcomes (potentially fracturing the spider web). Continue reading

Medical Homes: It’s not “Do they work?” but “How do they work?”

Earlier this year, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a widely publicized but limited article on medical homes in Pennsylvania that found little improvements in quality and no improvements in costs or utilization associated with medical homes. The authors concluded medical homes may generally “need further refinement” — a phrase that was taken by many in the press to mean that medical homes “don’t work.”

Subsequently, there has been much debate and little clarity around the promise of medical homes. Continue reading

CQI and Performance Evaluation: The Debrief

Continuous quality improvement is well known to us and integral to the culture of 3M. We often think of this as process improvement, employing Six Sigma and Lean methodologies. There is a distinctly human aspect to evaluation of individual and critical team performance because of opportunities for personal growth and refinements to team dynamics, respectively. Tremendous value is achieved when individuals bring absolute honesty and integrity to the process. Continue reading

What Will Patients Do When They See Your Prices?

Two trends are forcing greater consumerism and price sensitivity in health care. One is that Medicare, Medicaid, and some commercial insurance carriers, are starting to show patients and employers the prices facilities charge for common procedures. Another factor is that patients with high-deductible health and account-based plans have an incentive to consider cost when choosing services and providers.

How consumer-savvy are patients? They can search for providers by quality measures on a number of websites including HealthGrades.com and QualityCheck.org. But it’s not as easy to find out what providers charge for, say, an MRI or sinus surgery and compare prices to quality measures. Continue reading

Toss Those Pebbles Carefully…The Ripple Effect of CDI and Coding on Quality Outcomes

I have never been able to skip a stone, but I do enjoy watching the ripples expand until they disappear. Or do they?

Clinical documentation improvement (CDI) has been around for quite a while and the function has changed throughout the years. Initially, the focus was on appropriate financial reimbursement for resources provided to patients. As quality of care became more transparent, the scope expanded into accurate reflection of severity of illness and risk of mortality. Today, the role of clinical documentation has grown far beyond these two functions. Continue reading