News Briefs

New CMS data key tool to identify shortcomings

Newly updated data now are available at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital Quality Initiative web site (, from hospitals participating in the Hospital Quality Alliance, the initiative led by the American Hospital Association and other organizations with the goal of sharing hospital quality information.

More than 4,000 hospitals currently share data through the initiative, which assesses how often caregivers follow 10 clinical care steps proven to improve outcomes in heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients.

Nearly 3,900 hospitals were eligible to receive a full Medicare inpatient payment update for reporting their performance on these measures.

In addition, approximately 200 small rural facilities also volunteered to share their data, though they were not eligible for the incentive.

"Quality managers should review how their facility’s performance looks in relation to facilities nationwide," says Patrice L. Spath, a health care quality specialist with Forest Grove, OR-based Brown-Spath & Associates. "Now, even small critical access hospitals have data they can use to evaluate performance."

Use the information as a springboard for improvements, Spath recommends. "Even if the data show your facility’s performance is as good or even better than other facilities, remember the old adage, Everything can be improved,’" she says. "Achieving 100% compliance with recognized standards of care should be everyone’s ultimate goal."

JCAHO issues guidelines for pay for performance

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has issued a set of principles to guide the development of health care pay-for-performance programs.

According to JCAHO’s board of commissioners, pay-for-performance programs should place the highest priority on patient-centered efforts to improve health care quality and patient safety. Currently, more than 100 pay-for-performance programs exist nationwide.

JCAHO’s guidelines are designed for use by policy-makers, third-party payers, health plans, purchasers, and others who are involved in programs that provide incentives for achieving performance benchmarks.

JCAHO is urging that new models for payment give specific attention to aligning incentives among patients, practitioners, provider organizations, purchasers, and payers.

The guidelines emphasize the need for collaboration among stakeholders, evidenced-based measures, transparency and openness, and investment in subthreshold performers.

To view the Principles for the Construct of Pay-For-Performance Programs, go to the JCAHO web site at Click on "News Room," "Joint Commission News Releases," "Joint Commission Establishes National Principles to Guide Pay-For-Performance Programs," "View the full set of principles."