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Physicians spend $15.4 billion reporting quality metrics

A study published in Health Affairs found that the time lost reporting on quality measures costs medical practices around $15.4 billion annually. The time spent reporting on quality costs practices around $40,069 per physician each year, with 80% of practices saying that time spent on quality reporting has increased over the last three years.

Hundred Dollar Bills

Reporting on quality costs around $40,069 per physician annually

The study compared 1,000 practices across four specialties: cardiology, orthopedics, primary care, and multispecialty. Researchers found that a single physician generates about 15.1 hours’ worth of quality data per week. Physicians typically spent 2.6 hours doing quality measure reporting, with the rest falling to staff. A majority of the work was data entry. How much time a physician personally spent each week on quality measures varied between primary care physicians (3.9 hours), multispecialty physicians (3.0 hours), cardiologists (1.7 hours), and orthopedists (1.1 hours).

“There is much to gain from quality measurement, but the current system is far from being efficient and contributes to negative physician attitudes toward quality measures,” the authors wrote.

Most healthcare insurers have their own unique quality measure sets and reporting methods. However, this is expected to change with the recent CMS announcement of new nationally accepted core quality measures, which are currently being phased in by CMS and 70% of private insurers.

CMS: Nationally recognized hospital quality measures released

CMS and a consortium of health organizations and insurers on February 16 revealed a new agreement to create a nationally accepted set of quality measures for hospitals and physicians. The agency said the new measure sets will improve consumer decision-making, value-based payment and purchasing, reduce the variability in measure selection, and decrease the collection burden and cost for providers.

“In the U.S. healthcare system, where we are moving to measure and pay for quality, patients and care providers deserve a uniform approach to measure quality,” acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said in a news release. “This agreement today will reduce unnecessary burden for physicians and accelerate the country’s movement to better quality.”

CMS has been working with members of the Core Quality Measures Collaborative (CQMC) on the seven measure sets, with links to the new measures included below:

  1. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH), and Primary Care
  2. Cardiology
  3. Gastroenterology 
  4. HIV and Hepatitis C 
  5. Medical Oncology
  6. Obstetrics and Gynecology 
  7. Orthopedics

CMS says the promotion of evidence-based measurement will help patients, consumers, and physicians.  Some of the CQMC members now recognizing the new measures include:

  • Aetna
  • America’s Health Insurance Plans, Inc.
  • Anthem
  • BlueCross BlueShield Association;
  • Cigna
  • HealthPartners
  • Humira
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians
  • The American Medical Association
  • The National Partnership for Women and Families
  • The National Quality Forum
  • United Health Insurance




Joint Commission releases list of top performing hospitals

The Joint Commission just released its annual report on improving quality and safety in 3,300 American hospitals. The report recognizes 1,043 hospitals as the best facilities in the “Top Performer on Key Quality Measures” program. Within that group, 23 hospitals collected and reported data on seven or more core measure sets in 2014 and were named top performers in all of those areas.

The Joint Commission shows its results as “composites,” or the sum of all the accountability measures and steps taken to meet certain measure sets. This is the first year the accreditor had data on its new tobacco treatment and substance use measure sets, reporting tobacco measure compliance at 75.8% and substance use at 58.2%. The report found that the most improved area was perinatal care, which jumped from a composite score of 74.1% in 2013 to 96.3% in 2014.

However, only 80.3% of accredited hospitals that received a total composite score greater than 95% this year. This marks a 0.8% decrease from the prior year, which the report claims is due to hospitals adjusting to the new tobacco treatment and substance use measure sets.

Read the full report here.