The third week of March 2008 may well be remembered for the debut of online access to quality of care info simultaneously on both the east and west coasts of the United States.
On the west coast, Kaiser Permanente* stepped up to plate as the first provider in the Oregon areaa to issue a public report on quality of care at its outpatient medical offices using nine different measures. The results are available online and debut roughly a year ahead of a regional effort of a similar nature.
The Portland Business Journal reports:
"This report is just the beginning of our plan to share our quality story with our members and the public," said Dr. Maureen Wright, assistant medical director for Quality Management and Systems. "Each year we will add more measures. For 2008, we will also be reporting scores on screening for colorectal cancer and controlling high blood pressure."Meanwhile on the east coast, the Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance (PHCQA) launched a website on March 19 that contains similar data for all of the state's acute care hospitals. The Pittsburgh Business Times brings us the news:
The Kaiser report uses nationally recognized quality standards called the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). More than 90 percent of U.S. health plans use the HEDIS yardstick. You can access the report and look up Kaiser clinic scores at kp.org/medicalofficequality or kp.org/qualityscores.
The site contains information gathered from Medicare, the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, and the Joint Commission. Visitors to the Web page are able to search hospital quality measures in four major clinical areas: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and prevention of health care-associated infections.These bicoastal efforts are far from the whole picture. There are many significant initiatives around the country to shine a spotlight on the details of our health care transactions. As more and more people become agitated about the costs of their health care, I predict this much needed trend will sweep the nation.
Additional clinical areas will be added over time.
"While hospital quality data has become more available on the Internet, consumers are at a disadvantage when they must search out multiple sites, each with its own measurement standards," said Gerald Miller, chairman of the alliance. "PHCQA has developed, and is continuing to refine, a consistent and uniform approach that makes it easier for consumers to access, understand and use the data."
The question before us is this: how will these systems interact when the areas they cover meet and overlap? At what point will we achieve the uniform standards of quality measurement necessary to enact true and lasting reform?
* Disclosure for new readers: This blog is a companion to Kaiser CEO George C. Halvorson's newest book: Health Care Reform Now!.
SOURCE: "Kaiser publishes quality data for clinics" 03/20/08
SOURCE: "Pennsylvania quality-of-care data available online" 03/19/08
photo courtesy of Unhindered by Talent, used under this Creative Commons license