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CMS seeks comment on quality measures

Quality Improvement Monitor, November 18, 2004

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) seeks comment on standard information to be used to publicly report both on how well a physician treats certain illnesses and patient perspectives on the quality of care received during a hospital stay. 

As part of Medicare's comprehensive quality improvement efforts, CMS has submitted standardized measures, called ambulatory care measures, to the National Quality Forum (NQF) for review and comment. The measures will be used to pay physicians to monitor, report on and improve the care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The NQF is a non-profit organization that provides endorsement of consensus-based national standards for measurement and public reporting of healthcare performance data.

CMS also submitted an additional set of survey questions to measure patient perspectives on the care they receive when they are hospitalized to NQF for its consensus-based endorsement process. CMS will also publish a Federal Register notice asking for public comment and input about the survey questions.

As part of the Hospital Quality Initiative, CMS intends to publicly report a broad set of hospital clinical measures along with measures of
hospital patient perspectives on care. CMS has been working closely
with HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop a standardized survey tool to assess patient perspectives, called HCAHPS. CMS anticipates that hospitals will begin data collection using HCAHPS in 2005.

The questions selected for consensus review look at key areas including overall ratings of the hospital, communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, pain control, communication about medicines, cleanliness and quiet of the hospital environment, and discharge information.  The recommended questions are meant to complement, not replace, information hospitals currently collect to support improvements they use to support their own improvements in customer service and care.

Beginning early in 2005, the hospital quality data will be available on the CMS website for consumers at www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). 

The revised HCAHPS measures can be found at www.cms.hhs.gov/quality/hospitalwww.cms.hhs.gov/quality/hospital and the proposed ambulatory care measures will be posted at www.cms.hhs.govwww.cms.hhs.gov by the end of this week.