Study adds credence to physician practice quality tracking

While some contend that the benefits of tracking physicians' quality of care have thus far been "more accepted than studied," the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, started by a group of large physician practices and healthcare systems in 2003, can be counted as a success, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

A recent study of the collaborative, led by Medical College of Wisconsin professor Geoffrey Lamb, looked at the care of diabetic patients by physician practices in the collaborative versus the care provided by physicians in Iowa and South Dakota, as well as looked at national performance measures.

After tracking the data for more than two years, the study found that the collaborative's members improved overall in every quality measure, such as monitoring a diabetes patient's kidney function.

"The thing that really impressed me is the people who performed the lowest when they started had the greatest improvement," Lamb, associate director of the Joint Quality Office of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital, told the newspaper. "They cared where they were in ranking."

The disclosure aspect of the study was telling, Lamb and his team said. The study found that doctors, when their performance was publicly reported, were more likely to follow guidelines and to contact patients who were due for tests.

The collaborative group, which now tracks more than 30 quality measures for physician practices, said one of its goals is to show the value in gathering and disclosing the information.

"Our hope is this will help accelerate the acceptance by physicians," Christopher Queram, president and chief executive of the collaborative, told the newspaper.

To learn more:
- read the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel