CMS Expands Quality Data on Physician Compare and Hospital Compare

In a CMS press release issued December 10, CMS announced  that “data was refreshed on both the Physician Compare and Hospital Compare websites to improve these consumer online tools:

  • New quality measures have been added to Physician Compare for group practices and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and, for the first time, individual health care professionals. These measures focus on the quality of care provided by Medicare physicians and other health care professionals.
  • Hospital Compare includes information on more than 100 quality measures and over 4,000 hospitals. The website has been refreshed and updated to include new data and several new measures.

For more information: See the Public Reporting of 2014 Quality Measures on the Physician Compare and Hospital Compare Websites fact sheet.”

CMS Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program: FY 2016 Results

A fact sheet was issued December 10 announcing in “FY 2016, 758 out of 3,308 hospitals subject to the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program are in the lowest performing quartile and will have a one percent payment reduction applied to all Medicare discharges occurring between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016. In FY 2015, 724 hospitals were subject to a payment reduction. CMS estimates that the total savings in FY 2016 will be $364 million.

The fact sheet includes information on:

  • Public reporting
  • Measure selection and calculation
  • Scoring methodology

Additional information about the HAC Reduction Program is available on QualityNet.”

Hospital Injury Rates Plateau, After 3 Years of Decline

In an article released by NPR on December 3, it was stated that “the rate of avoidable complications affecting patients in hospitals leveled off in 2014, after three years of declines, according to a federal report released Tuesday. Hospitals have averted many types of injuries where clear preventive steps have been identified, but they still struggle to avert complications with broader causes and less clear-cut solutions, government and hospital officials said.”  “The frequency of hospital complications last year was 17 percent lower than in 2010 but the same as in 2013, indicating that some patient safety improvements made by hospitals and the government are sticking. But the lack of improvement raised concerns that it is becoming harder for hospitals to further reduce the chances that a patient may be harmed during a visit.”

Four Ways to Reduce Admissions

FierceHealthcare recently released a report that stated healthcare leaders may need “to think outside the box to reduce readmissions and consider solutions beyond the hospital's walls.” They feel the following four, lesser known ideas, can have an impact on reducing hospital readmissions.

  1. Assess Community Factors
    Thirty day readmission rates dropped by 60% for targeted diagnosis-related groups when three western Pennsylvania hospitals launch a program that connected patient navigators with patients. These navigators helped patients find valuable health services and schedule appointments as well as followed up with the patients after discharge. Health coaches at the Mercy Clinic (Des Moines, IA) provide education on the patient’s condition, help coordinate case and find resources that will provide the patient with the most value.
     
  2. House Calls
    Two hospital systems, Valley Hospital (Ridgewood, NJ) and North Memorial Health System (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) have seen reductions in readmissions by launching programs that utilize paramedics, emergency medical technicians and critical care nurses to coordinate follow-up care.
     
  3. Transitional Care Programs
    A 20% reduction in readmissions was seen by Community Care of North Carolina after they launched a physician-led transitional care program in 2008.
     
  4. Emergency Departments for Elderly Patients
    Because elderly patients can have an increased issue with performing daily tasks after surgery, they are at high risk for readmissions. However, emergency rooms can be confusing. Several hospitals have created special emergency departments for elderly patients with specially trained staff to assist this patient population by assessing patients for readmission risk factors.

Improving Patient Engagement

Today patients are more engaged in their healthcare but barriers still exist toward the transition to true patient-centered care. As reported by Fierce Practice Management, and based on an article in the Chicago Tribune, there are ways to improve patient engagement:

  • Understand patients' goals: To improve patient communications, Claudia Nichols, founder of Pilot Health Advocates suggests asking the patient to write down their goals so they can be discussed at the appointment.
  • Share notes.  Care efficiency has been shown to improve when physicians share their notes with their patients. This process also helps promote communication while improving the patient’s participation in their care.
  • Recognize patients' level of health literacy. Many patients don’t understand the health information provided by their doctors. Assessing the patient’s ability to understand their issues can help the physician determine what resources they can benefit from.