FAH’s Chip Kahn: We need uniform quality measures when possible

Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, gave a harsh assessment of current quality measurement processes at a Health Affairs forum in Washington, D.C.

The discussion was about the future of value-based payment, and Kahn said there are two questions hospitals and providers should consider in securing that future. First, are they focusing on measures that matter? In his opinion, not enough.

“We do have a few measures that matter,” he wrote in a blog post summarizing his comments. “They include the reduction of elective deliveries before 39 weeks and readmissions measures, the latter of which are flawed, but have brought attention to an area where we have achieved great improvement.”

The second question is, assuming a measurement does matter, can providers “adopt a platform which deploys those measures” across different care settings to inform care decisions, improve accountability and reduce inefficiencies?

Again, Kahn’s answer was no, arguing the healthcare industry can’t ensure consistent measurement across different settings and value-based programs.

“Instead, we have a Balkanized quality measurement and reporting process,” he wrote. “Clinicians and providers are currently required to collect similar data elements for reporting on different measures and measure specifications for different value based payment programs and systems in both the public and private sectors. This variation is arbitrary and diverts attention and resources from what is most important – improving patient care by using effective performance data.”

To achieve that, Kahn thinks the entire industry needs a platform to align all payors and stakeholders for uniform quality measures—to the extent possible across different care settings—so caregivers can spend more time considering innovations in “patient-centered care delivery.” Such a broad, united effort is possible, he wrote, from his experience with the Measures Applications Partnership at the National Quality Forum.

“So if we agree on the goals of measurement, the need for tangible ROI, and the process for moving forward, this could create a solid platform for the next stepreassessing current federal payment programs to ensure they align with the overall goals and work that already is being done in many states,” Kahn concluded.