ACP Releases New Papers on Performance Measures and the Development of a National Health Information Infrastructure
College intends to take the lead in reviewing and disseminating physician peformance data.
The American College of Physicians released two ground-breaking papers today calling for the use of clinical performance measures to improve physician quality and the development of an interoperable national health information infrastructure to support such quality improvements.
"The Use of Performance Measurements to Improve Physician Quality of Care" paper argues such measures have great potential to assess individual physician performance, improve the quality of patient care and reward physicians who meet or exceed high standards of health care delivery.
However, performance measures done in a bureaucratic, arbitrary or punitive manner, ACP warns, could hinder good patient care and cause physician frustration and career dissatisfaction.
The College has announced its intention to take the lead in reviewing and disseminating physician clinical performance measures and developing public policies to support the appropriate use of performance measures
ACP outlines other policy goals as:
ACP's paper titled "Enhancing the Quality of Patient Care Through Interoperable Exchange of Electronic Health Care Information" provides a comprehensive review of efforts to date, a description of obstacles to achieving true interoperability and recommendations for maintaining medical quality in the process.
The paper cites numerous studies demonstrating health care information interoperability will bring a higher standard of quality to the U.S. health care system. A 2003 Government Accounting Office (GAO) study found interoperability benefits included "improved quality of care, reduced costs associated with medication errors, more accurate and complete medical documentation, more accurate capture of codes and charges, and improved communication among providers that enabled them to respond more quickly to patients' needs."
The biggest obstacles to achieving this goal include cost and the lack of common medical terminology, coding, and communications software. This problem results from the highly fragmented nature of the U.S. health care system.
Virtually every component of care�drugs, lab results, digital imaging, disease classification, procedures performed, and electronic health records� uses different terminologies. For drugs alone, at least 12 separate systems exist for naming medications, the ingredients, dosage and route of administration.
The ACP identifies a number of key recommendations for achieving interoperability.
"These two papers demonstrate the College's strong commitment to improving patient care by using the latest technology and quality measurement methodologies available," said ACP President Munsey Wheby, MD, FACP. "All sectors of the health care system and the U.S. government must get behind these efforts if patients are to reap the benefits of the information age."
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults.
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[Note to editors: The full text of "The Use of Performance Measurements to Improve Physician Quality of Care" is available at http://www.acponline.org/hpp/performance_measures.pdf The full text of "Enhancing the Quality of Patient Care Through Interoperable Exchange of Electronic Health Care Information" is available at http://www.acponline.org/hpp/quality_care.pdf]