It is impossible to improve what cannot be measured or to measure what hasn’t been defined. Take, for example, the topic of healthcare quality. Everyone wants quality, but everyone’s keeping score differently. This conundrum was described in some detail in The Quality Conundrum, a book developed and distributed in 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute (HRI). It explores practical approaches to improving the quality of patient care from the perspective of patients, physicians, payers, and employers.
One of these approaches is pay-for-performance (P4P), which attempts to define, measure, and reward quality. This represents a radical departure from traditional payment methods, which pay providers the same regardless of differences in quality. P4P has gained traction, largely because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has told hospitals and physicians that future increases in payment will be linked to improvements in clinical performance. Commercial health plans are also responding to employers’ demands for quality improvement by developing “scorecards” that use quality metrics to grade care provided by hospitals and physicians. By tying providers’ scores to financial payments, non-financial rewards, and public reporting, both private and public payers intend to incent improvements in quality of care and outcomes.
The most mature P4P programs are more than 10 years old. However, among payers interviewed for this report, P4P programs are still evolving. As they’ve blossomed, providers have faced a host of new and varied reporting requirements-what some call a “virtual soup of different metrics.” This has caused some to question the value of P4P and whether the results are worth the administrative burden.
Pay-for-Performance: Will the Latest Payment Trend Improve Care?
Source: Meredith B. Rosenthal, R. Adams Dudley, JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 297 No. 7, February 21, 2007 (subscription required)