It’s the day after the Obama administration released much-awaited rules on how doctors and hospitals can form teams called accountable-care organizations, and the health industry remains a twitter over the 429-page rule. You can read a Wall Street Journal story on the rules here.
There’s a lot in there but one aspect that’s easy to overlook but shouldn’t be are the 65 quality measurements these organizations will need to report in order to share in savings. The metrics could go a long way toward changing the quality of care but could also be tough for groups to meet.
They fall under five main categories: Patient experience; Care coordination; Patient safety; Preventive health; and At-Risk Population/Frail elderly health. Patient experience, for instance, can mean how well your doctors communicate and how timely your care and appointments are. For care coordination, the proposed rule intends to hold the organizations accountable for readmissions and visits to the doctor after being discharged from the hospital, as well as using electronic medical records.
The rule goes into some detail on at-risk populations, including patients with diabetes, heart failure, coronary artery disease, hypertension and COPD. For diabetics, for instance, the government plans to require physicians to perform regular eye and foot exams; For heart failure patients, doctors must give patients with atrial fibrillation warfarin.
Are these types of standards what medicine needs, or are they too stringent? Readers, what do you think?
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