Government Health Quality Initiative Bodes Well for IT
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid wield carrots successfully to collect safety data; the model shows promise for health information technology.In May, I exulted that some 90 percent of hospitals had signed up voluntarily to share safety data. This month, I can cheer that some 95 percent of eligible hospitals have done so. By 2005, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, plan to launch a Web site for consumers, and some of the data is already available. The information will help patients pick the best hospitals and help hospital administrators design safer procedures. Indeed, while sexier technologies for catching mistakes generally grab the headlines, an equally valid use of software is to analyze workflow systems to identify safety risks. But that kind of analysis cant happen (or at least cant happen as effectively) without the kind of data that should eventually come out of this project. For more, read "Experts Seek Answers Behind Error Death Data."
The 10 clinical measures to be monitored involve such straightforward, yes-no questions about patients diagnosed with heart failure, heart attack or pneumonia as, Was a heart patient offered aspirin? Did a pneumonia patient get an antibiotic in a reasonable amount of time? According to CMS, which plans to expand the number of measures, the "starter set" has had years of clinical validation and testing by CMS and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations; they were proposed by the National Quality Forum by CMS request.