Healthcare industry makes 'clear progress' in Triple Aim measures

The nation's healthcare system has made "clear progress" in improving its delivery of the "Triple Aim" of improved care, improved health and reduced costs, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Of 119 publicly disclosed performance rates for seven quality reporting programs, 5 percent improved between 2006 and 2012, according to the 2015 National Impact Assessment of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Measures Report. Roughly 35 percent of these measures were classified as high-performing, or performance rates exceeding 90 percent.

The report also found improvements specifically in the area of inpatient heart failure process measures and inpatient hospital surgical process measures. During the study period, the improved heart failure measures saved between 7,000 and 10,000 lives, while improved surgical process measures prevented between 4,000 and 7,000 infections.

Racial and ethnic disparities in care quality also decreased over the study period, improving most among Hispanics, blacks and Asians and least among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and American Indian/Native Alaskans.

"Transparency and monitoring of measure[d] rates by race and ethnicity for all publicly reported measures and ensuring that disparities across programs, setting and demographic groups are eliminated, remain top priorities consistent with our CMS Quality Strategy," Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer, said in a statement. A study last December similarly found hospitals have made progress reducing racial disparities in care, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Nor do these outcomes only apply to the Medicare population, according to the report; more than 40 percent of CMS' quality reporting program measures incorporate Medicaid patients, and more than 30 percent include patients who are not covered by either program, according to the report.

Public reporting of healthcare quality measures is believed to be a contributing factor to hospitals' improvement on quality measures, with a 2014 report finding that 14 of the 16 quality measures reaching a 95 percent performance level were publicly reported by CMS.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)
- read the statement