Doc calls for standards across payers on quality reporting measures

Peter A. Ubel, M.D., professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine, writes in his recent Forbes commentary that “gazillions of hours of clinic time” are used up by doctors documenting care, instead of actually treating patients. As he sees it, the overwhelming number of quality measures may cause clinicians to leave healthcare altogether.

Physician practices around the country are throwing more than $15.4 billion at reporting on quality measures--and that’s in addition to the 785 physician hours being spent on such activities, according to a Health Affairs study published in March.

Documenting care quality is also eating into staff members’ time. Clinicians are spending in excess of 15 hours each week on quality measures for doctors, according to the Health Affairs study. And that’s on top of the three hours doctors are spending on documentation each week. What that means for the average six-doctor practice is 90 minutes are being used up on documenting care quality, writes Ubel.

“These bureaucratic hassles are extraordinary and need to be fixed. But by no means am I saying that we need to stop measuring healthcare quality, nor cease basing part of healthcare reimbursement on quality performance. Instead, we need to take serious steps to reduce the burden of tracking healthcare quality,” he writes.

Ubel wants to make this reporting burden easier on physicians in his call for payers to standardize on quality measures; this would be an improvement on the requirement today for staff to report on different quality measures for each payer.

- read the study abstract

- check out the commentary