The Wall Street Journal Online yesterday looked at initiatives focused on health care quality data reporting and the use of quality measures for rating providers. Summaries of the profiled initiatives are provided below:
- The American Hospital Association plans to ask most U.S. hospitals to support an industry-government effort to voluntarily report outcome data on three conditions -- acute heart attack, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. AHA will publish the initial results in July, with data on more disease areas and information on patients' hospital experiences to be added in the future. A number of states also are considering requiring hospitals to report mortality rates and other data and quality measures to the public.
- The Leapfrog Group, a coalition of large health care purchasers, recently adjusted its standards for hospital quality and will begin working with the government-sponsored National Quality Forum to develop standards for future hospital ratings, the Journal reports.
Critics Worry About Negative Repercussions
Critics of these quality measurement programs say the ratings could encourage health plans to intentionally downgrade hospitals to draw patients to cheaper hospitals, according to the Journal. Others say that quality standards could be used in patient lawsuits against providers. "Efforts by aggressive malpractice attorneys could rapidly transform Leapfrog's safety standards from marketplace advantages for compliant hospitals to performance expectations required by law," three Harvard School of Public Health professors wrote in the current issue of Health Affairs. However, Leapfrog Executive Director Suzanne Delbanco said hospitals were more receptive to the group's recent changes and are now more willing to report clinical outcomes data (Landro, Wall Street Journal Online, 4/29).