The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new tool for patients and caregivers and other enhanced initiatives today to empower consumers to make informed choices about their health care, and to help improve the quality of care in America’s hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices, and other health care settings.
“These tools are new ways CMS is making sure consumers have information about health care quality and important information they need to make the best decisions about where to receive high-quality care,” said Dr. Don Berwick, the CMS Administrator. “These efforts are designed to also encourage providers to deliver safe, patient-centered care that consumers can rely on and will motivate improvement across our health care system.”
The steps include:
• A Quality Care Finder to provide consumers with one online destination to access all of Medicare’s Compare tools -- comparison information on hospitals, nursing homes and plans: www.Medicare.gov/QualityCareFinder.
• An updated Hospital Compare website, which now includes data about how well hospitals protect outpatients from surgical infections and whether hospitals care for outpatients who are treated for suspected heart attacks with proven therapies that reduce death: www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov
• An enhanced Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) program under which QIOs provide technical assistance and resources to health care providers across the country to assist them in changing how care is delivered in hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices, and across care settings.
CMS has also updated data for outcomes of inpatient hospital care on Hospital Compare. Today’s update includes new 30-day mortality rates and 30-day readmissions rates for inpatients admitted with heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia. These rates encompass three full years of claims data (from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010).
This year, the national 30-day mortality rates for heart attack have continued to decline, falling by 0.3 percent from the 2006 through 2009 rate of 16.2 percent to the more recent 2007 through 2010 rate of 15.9 percent. Mortality rates for heart failure and pneumonia increased slightly over the same period, showing an increase from 11.2 to 11.3 percent for heart failure and 11.6 to 11.9 percent for pneumonia, respectively.
Also this year, national 30-day readmissions rates for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia showed small changes in their updated rates. The new 2007 through 2010 rates for these three conditions are 19.8 percent, 24.8 percent, and 18.4 percent, respectively. These rates were slightly higher for heart attack in 2006 through 2009, at 19.9 percent, and slightly lower for pneumonia, at 18.2 percent, and heart failure, at 24.5 percent.
“Both sets of inpatient measures are risk-adjusted, taking health conditions into account to ‘level the playing field’ among hospitals and to help ensure accuracy in performance reporting,” Dr. Berwick said.
Hospital Compare also includes 10 measures that capture patient experience with hospital care. After two years of reporting these patient experience measures, hospitals have shown modest but meaningful improvement on most experience measures. The degree of this improvement has been relatively uniform across most measures and hospitals.
The website also contains 25 process-of-care measures and three children’s asthma care measures. The site also features information about the volume of certain hospital procedures performed and conditions treated for Medicare patients and what Medicare pays for those services.
Consumers have relied on Hospital Compare since 2005 to provide information about the quality of care provided in over 4,700 of America’s acute-care, critical access and children’s hospitals. So far this year, Hospital Compare has received about 1 million page views each month. More information about Hospital Compare is online at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.govse
The QIOs will integrate and coordinate care across settings within communities, improve community health by promoting preventive services, and make health care costs sustainable in the long term by supporting care that keeps patients safe from costly and dangerous complications and harm. The works supports the administration’s National Quality Strategy and its Partnership for Patients, designed to build collaborative models to improve health care quality, reduce hospital-acquired conditions and lower hospital readmissions.
“Patient-centeredness means that every decision that’s made and every program that’s established is focused on patients and their families,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., M.Sc., CMS chief medical officer and director of the agency’s Office of Clinical Standards and Quality. “QIOs will promote this concept by including beneficiaries and front line clinicians in quality improvement initiatives, learning and action networks and communications. Listening to the voices of patients and staying focused on their outcomes and experiences are essential to achieve care centered on the patient.”
More information about the QIO Program is on the CMS website at www.cms.gov/qualityimprovementorgs.
Source: CMS News Release