iLoveBenefits: Industry News Blog

Quality of Care and Patient Safety Are Improving, Particularly for Hospital Care, Though Additional Work Remains

New AHRQ Report:

The overall quality of health care and patient safety are improving, particularly for hospital care and for measures that are being publicly reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to the newly released 2014 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Among the highlights in this year’s report:

  • Hospital care was safer in 2013 than in 2010, with 17 percent fewer harms to patients and an estimated 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions, 50,000 fewer deaths, and $12 billion in cost savings over three years (2011, 2012, 2013). However, quality is still far from optimal, with millions of patients harmed by the care they receive, and only 70 percent of recommended care being delivered across a broad array of quality measures.
  • A few disparities among racial groups for services such as childhood vaccinations have been reduced to zero; however, much additional work remains to address a broad range of other disparities affecting quality of care.

This year’s report has been consolidated and tracks performance measures that align with the National Quality Strategy. Chartbooks on specific topics such as patient safety and care coordination will be issued in coming months to provide more detailed information and easy-to-understand slides that can be downloaded for presentations.

The report provides a snapshot of health care quality and disparities based on trend analyses from 2000-2002 to 2011-2012 (except for select measures of access to care tracked through the first half of 2014, and for adverse events in hospitals tracked through 2013). Because most data precede implementation of a majority of the health insurance expansions included in the Affordable Care Act, the report serves as a baseline for measuring progress in future years.

Select here to download your complimentary copy of the report. To order a print copy, email or call 1-800-358-9295.

Patrick Conway has been promoted

CMS announced in an internal memorandum that Patrick Conway will become acting principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Conway, who is currently deputy administrator for innovation and quality and CMS chief medical officer, will assume the position following the departure of Marilyn Tavenner as CMS administrator later in February, Andy Slavitt, the current CMS principal deputy administrator, will become acting administrator at the end of this week. “Patrick will play a critical role in driving and coordinating our policy initiatives across Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” and he will continue to lead initiatives on delivery system reform, the memorandum said.

March 3, 2015 | Categories: healthcare | Tags: , , | Comments (0)

Updated National Quality Strategy Stakeholder Toolkit Features New Content and Graphics

Organizations can now use an updated National Quality Strategy (NQS) Stakeholder Toolkit to show alignment with and support of the NQS. The updated toolkit includes new graphics, Web content and social media content that can help organizations advance the mission of the NQS. The National Quality Strategy helps align public- and private-sector stakeholders across the country to achieve better health and health care for all Americans. It is led by AHRQ on behalf of HHS.

January 7, 2015 | Categories: healthcare,quality | Tags: , , , | Comments (0)

The impact of wellness programs . . . what do you think?

(Reuters) – A long-awaited report on workplace wellness programs, which has still not been publicly released, delivers a blow to the increasingly popular efforts, Reuters has learned, casting doubt on a pillar of the Affordable Care Act and a favorite of the business community. According to a report by researchers at the RAND Corp, programs that try to get employees to become healthier and reduce medical costs have only a modest effect. Those findings run contrary to claims by the mostly small firms that sell workplace wellness to companies ranging from corporate titans to mom-and-pop operations.

RAND delivered the congressionally mandated analysis to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services last fall.

The report found, for instance, that people who participate in such programs lose an average of only one pound a year for three years.

In addition, participation “was not associated with significant reductions in total cholesterol level.” And while there is some evidence that smoking-cessation programs work, they do so only “in the short term.”

Most large U.S. employers believe the programs improve workers’ health and reduce or at least keep the lid on medical spending. “Companies from the CEO on down feel that these programs are bringing value,” said Maria Ghazal, a vice president at the Business Roundtable, the association of chief executives of big companies. “The criticism is surprising, because companies are not hearing that internally.”

Some experts not involved with the new report say even the modest benefits RAND found need qualification.

More from the source: Reuters

Parting thoughts: Berwick shares views on media coverage of health care and reform

Health reporters, both veterans and novices, know Don Berwick, M.D., M.P.P., as one of the most thoughtful and powerful forces in U.S. health care today. He has worked with reporters as part of his jobs at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and, most recently, at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He has served as a professor at Harvard Medical School and at Harvard School of Public Health and worked as a pediatrician in Boston.

Berwick left CMS in December and agreed to share his thoughts with AHCJ President Charles Ornstein about media coverage of CMS, health reform and his tenure.

Q. What are your overall impressions about the way the media covered CMS during your tenure there?

A. I generally had a favorable impression. Many of the people I dealt with in the press were very, very knowledgeable and asked me tough and deep questions. I’d say the majority of my encounters, especially with the DC-based media, felt like dealing with experts.

I found two things that, as I reflected, may imply suggestions for improvement. One is the amount of in-depth coverage. As we were dealing with very, very complex issues, which is standard for CMS, and the Affordable Care Act, I found the majority of the reports, as opposed to the interviews, shallow. There weren’t a sufficient number of longer in-depth analyses of what really was going on and what were the pros and cons of the choices the government, and our nation, are making.

My job was to think through very, very difficult issues. I would think sound media would be addressing the issues with the same discipline that we were using internally. … That requires longer stories and more print than most reporters are probably able to command.

The other side of it is that there is still more gotcha in the media than I think is productive. This tendency of journalists, not all by any means but some, to kind of wait for the two-word phrase that can become the headline, I think, is unfortunate. I understand why in business terms or commercial terms that might be necessary but it does not support public exploration. What it does induce is extreme caution and pre-packaged answers. One is always thinking about how not to offer the journalist a three-word phrase that will become the misleading headline of what’s happening. I think I learned to do that but I would hope, at least naively, that there could be a different social contract about what the media is doing.

Read more here:

This is a fascinating and beneath the veneer that we often see in politicians – Don isn’t a politician – rather a deep thinking and incredibly knowledgeable health care leader. I strongly urge that you read this article.

A few interesting articles:


HHS names Pioneer ACOs

HHS on Monday announced the 32 organizations the agency selected from among 80 applicants to participate in the Pioneer accountable care organization model. Overseen by the CMS Innovation Center, the Pioneer ACO model will test the effects of several payment arrangements to support these groups in providing better care and outcomes at a lower cost, according to HHS, , which estimated the project could save up to $1.1 billion over 5 years.

Read more including the names of the 32 and a brief sketch of each: HHS names Pioneer ACOs – Healthcare business news and research | Modern Healthcare

Tavenner to replace Berwick next week, AP says

The Associated Press reports that CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick will step aside Dec. 2 and will be replaced by Deputy Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
Read More at »
November 28, 2011 | Categories: Federal Government,healthcare | Tags: , , | Comments (0)

ACO Proposed Rules Published and More

CMS ACO Proposed Rule

HHS Office of Inspector General Proposal for Waivers of Certain Federal Laws

FTC-DOJ Antitrust Policy Statement

Internal Revenue Service Guidance for Tax-exempt
Organizations Seeking to Participate as ACOs

HHS Releases the National Quality Strategy for Better Health and Quality of Care

National Quality Strategy will promote better health, quality care for Americans

Created under the Affordable Care Act, first-ever strategy will guide local, state and
national efforts to improve quality of care

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today released the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care (National Quality Strategy). The strategy was called for under the Affordable Care Act and is the first effort to create national aims and priorities to guide local, state, and national efforts to improve the quality of health care in the United States.

“The Affordable Care Act sets America on a path toward a higher quality health care system so we stop doing things that don’t work for patients and start doing more of the things that do work,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “American hospitals, doctors, nurses and other health care providers are among the best in the world. With this ground-breaking strategy, we are working with local communities and health care providers to help patients and improve the health of all Americans.”

The National Quality Strategy will promote quality health care that is focused on the needs of patients, families, and communities. At the same time, the strategy is designed to move the system to work better for doctors and other health care providers – reducing their administrative burdens and helping them collaborate to improve care. The strategy presents three aims for the health care system:

  • Better Care: Improve the overall quality, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
  • Healthy People and Communities: Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social, and environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care.
  • Affordable Care: Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and government.

To help achieve these aims, the strategy also establishes six priorities, to help focus efforts by public and private partners. Those priorities are:

  • Making care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
  • Ensuring that care engages each person and family as partners.
  • Ensuring that each person and family are engaged as partners in their care.
  • Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.
  • Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.
  • Making quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new health care delivery models.

The strategy was developed both through evidence-based results of the latest research and a collaborative transparent process that included input from a wide range of stakeholders across the health care system, including federal and state agencies, local communities, provider organizations, clinicians, patients, businesses, employers, and payers. This process of engagement will continue in 2011 and beyond.

The National Quality Strategy is designed to be an evolving guide for the nation as we continue to move forward with efforts to measure and improve health and health care quality. HHS will continue to work with stakeholders to create specific quantitative goals and measures for each of these priorities. In addition, as different communities have different needs and assets, the strategy and HHS will empower them to take different paths to achieving these goals.

The National Quality Strategy is just one piece of a broader effort by the Obama Administration to improve the quality of health care, and will serve as a tool to better coordinate quality initiatives between public and private partners. For example, the Affordable Care Act established a new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation that will test innovative care and service delivery models. These new models are being tested to determine if they will improve the quality of care and reduce program expenditures for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Read the report at For more information about the National Quality Strategy, visit

Older Posts »