Program Performance Measurement

We Are Not Done Changing

Recently, the on-line version of JAMA published an original investigation entitled "Patient Mortality During Unannounced Accreditation Surveys at US Hospitals". The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of heightened vigilance during unannounced accreditation surveys on safety and quality of inpatient care. The authors found that there was a significant reduction in mortality in patients admitted during the week of surveys by The Joint Commission. The change was more significant in major teaching hospitals, where mortality fell from 6.41% to 5.93% during survey weeks, a 5.9% relative decrease. The positive effects of being monitored have been well documented in all kinds of arenas, such as hand washing and antibiotic stewardship. But mortality? This is an interesting outcome, especially considering a recent ordeal I went through with my dear sister-in-law. She was on vacation in a somewhat remote location and suffers from a chronic illness, which requires her to…

We Are All Accomplices In The Great American Coding Swindle

"Membership in the American Academy of Professional Coders has risen to more than 170,000 today from roughly 70,000 in 2008." "The AMA owns the copyright to CPT, the code used by doctors. It publishes coding books and dictionaries. It also creates new codes when doctors want to charge for a new procedure. It levies a licensing fee on billing companies for using CPT codes on bills. Royalties for CPT codes, along with revenues from other products, are the association’s biggest single source of income" Aint that something? Okay, I would rank Elizabeth Rosenthal up there with Atul Gawande and Lisa Rosenbaum in the pantheon of standout healthcare writers active today.  They are all docs and have more skill in their writing pinky than I have in my entire body. They have a unique talent in stitching together narratives that speak to both docs and patients in their language--and do it within…

Do Clinicians Understand Quality Metric Data?

The number and complexity of quality metrics within healthcare continues to expand, many of which are used to compare performance between hospitals, systems, and/or clinicians. To make these comparisons fair, many quality reporting agencies attempt to “risk stratify” these metrics, so as not to penalize those caring for higher complexity patients. Although laudable, these attempts also increase the complexity of the data and may reduce the ability of clinicians to understand and analyze quality performance. A recent article in the Journal of Hospital Medicine explores clinicians’ understanding of quality metrics using central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) as an example. The investigators used a unique Twitter-based survey to explore clinicians’ interpretation of basic concepts in public-reported CLABSI rates and ratios. I recently caught up with the lead author, Dr. Sushant Govindan, to better understand his team’s research and its implications for quality reporting. Dr. Govindan is a Pulmonary-Critical Care fellow…

Creating Value through Crowdsourcing & Finding “Value” in the New Year

Earlier this month, I took a day trip to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center for their inaugural value challenge. Little did I know that when I arrived, I would be part of an all-star judging team that would be giving away $100,000 (a.k.a. real money) complete with a “big check”, a la Publisher’s Clearing House, to the best idea to improve value! Given that I do not see patients on our cardiology service, I was starting to wonder if I was in over my head. The good news is that value was defined quite broadly by different stakeholders; I was able to follow along, even though I wasn’t up to date with the latest in intra-aortic balloon pumps. We heard from 5 finalists. Interestingly, 3 of the ideas centered on specialized teams to improve care coordination for specific conditions such as atrial fibrillation, pulmonary embolism, or cardiogenic shock. While…

Male Versus Female Hospitalists

If you have paid attention to the news, you picked up the study out in JAMA concerning how male versus female physicians deliver inpatient care.  Not just any inpatient docs, though, but hospitalists. The investigators were meticulous in their analysis of over a million Medicare beneficiaries and looked at readmit and mortality rates.  They examined various diagnoses and adjusted for the usual doctor and hospital characteristics. Across the board, males took a drubbing and the NNT for both outcomes of interest hovered around 200 (0.5% absolute difference). Ashish Jha, one of the investigators and a leader in the study of hospital quality and safety (who really needs to speak at an SHM annual, incidentally) goes into more depth over at his blog: (more…)
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