As healthcare experts debate which measures best reflect healthcare quality, Premier Inc. President and CEO Susan DeVore has a suggestion: Hospitals should use the same methodology they use for their finances.
Measuring outcomes is vital, DeVore writes in the Wall Street Journal, but the outcomes are irrelevant without a plan to establish clear performance standards and improvement strategies. That, she writes, is where revenue cycle best practices come in. To take meaningful action based on quality measures, providers should adapt the revenue cycle management framework as "quality cycle management," which will require "a clear cadence, metrics with targets, a firm culture of accountability and, of course, deep executive engagement to generate change."
Quality cycle management protocols, according to DeVore, should particularly emphasize aspects of performance that continuously improve outcomes quality, which, in the age of value-based care, means better fiscal outcomes for hospitals as well.
DeVore's comments come in the wake of a recent study that found wide disparities in existing hospital quality ratings and measures often confuse patients, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
A study in the American Journal of Managed Care offered specific strategies for implementing a national quality-improvement plan that accelerates improvement by a power of 10, creating tangible patient benefits in 1.7 years rather than the 17 years research suggests it typically takes. The components of researchers' proposed Performance, Leadership, Alignment, Next (PLAN) strategy include:
- Identification of performance gaps and clear definition of improvement goals
- Active leadership support during the implementation and design stages
- Alignment of providers' improvement plans and national reimbursement policies and incentives
- Continual focus on what comes next, including multiple iterations of improvement projects and ongoing data collection
"National improvement efforts over the past decade have shown it is possible to spread best practices swiftly at a national level, yet many evidence-based improvements continue to move slowly and incompletely into practice," the study authors write. "Policymakers and healthcare leaders must apply the PLAN framework to national improvement efforts to intentionally accelerate the pace of improvement."