'Quality of care' in eye of beholder


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News item: The AMA, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, and the National Committee for Quality Assurance have crafted a common set of performance measures for management of adult diabetes. Led by an expert panel of clinical leaders in diabetes care, the three groups' goal was to find a way to collect data from physicians and health plans that later could be translated into useful quality-of-care information about plans and providers. They also wanted to streamline the administrative burden of data collection. The diabetes set will be tested by the Maine Medical Assessment Foundation.

Reality check: The three groups say their initiative answers the Institute of Medicine's call for improved efficiency in the health care system. However, while the initiative is a bold demonstration of collaboration, whether purchasers of health care will notice is an open question. The latest data suggest that employers still take a micro-view of quality of care, looking at such indicators as cost and utilization data — rather than a broader view that incorporates empirical indicators of quality of care, such as HEDIS reports and outcomes data.

SOURCE: MERCER/FOSTER HIGGINS NATIONAL SURVEY OF EMPLOYER-SPONSORED HEALTH PLANS, 2001

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