AQA announces more quality control practices

Filed under: Health Care |

At its fall meeting, the AQA Alliance adopted 31 quality measures for practitioners in 25 surgical and medical specialties, bringing to 80 the number of AQA-adopted measures being widely incorporated in provider contracts and implemented in medical practice.

The measures build on those previously adopted for primary care, cardiology and cardiac surgery.

Originally known as the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance, the coalition is now known as the AQA Alliance because its mission has broadened to incorporate all areas of physician practice. The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality joined to lead an effort for determining how to improve performance measurement, data aggregation and reporting in ambulatory care settings.

Measures were proposed by and approved for use among rheumatologists, clinical endocrinologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, radiologists and the 20 surgical specialties and subspecialties that are members of the Surgical Quality Alliance.

In addition, a survey to measure patient satisfaction with individual physicians and groups was adopted.

A complete list of AQA-adopted measures and their specifications can be found at www.aqaalliance.org.

AQA is a national coalition of 150 organizations working together on a strategy to measure, report on and improve physician practice. AQA’s members represent dozens of physician specialties, consumer groups, employers, government, health insurance plans and accrediting and quality groups.

AQA’s role is to reach consensus and facilitate the widespread implementation of standard measures that have been through the review process of the National Quality Forum. These are measures that are developed by organizations such as the AMA-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement and the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

At the same time, progress is being made at six initial sites of a pilot project announced earlier this year that combines public sector and private sector data to measure and report about physician practice in a clear, useful and transparent way for consumers and purchasers of health care, as well as for practicing physicians.

The AQA pilot, which is testing approaches to aggregating and reporting data about physician performance, will report publicly in 2007.

The pilot project is a foundation for the transparency initiative announced recently by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and it will be expanded in a way that will create a national infrastructure for local measurement and reporting of data.

“The work of the AQA Alliance — building a strategy to measure, report on and improve physician performance — is fundamental to all the major quality goals for our health care system, and it continues to gain momentum and move forward,” said Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

While physicians work to deliver high quality care, there has not been sufficient data to help them identify areas that need improvement.

Until recently, the measuring and reporting of performance at the physician level has been conducted piecemeal. Physicians with patients covered by various public and private programs have their performance measured separately, often against different sets of measures. The work of the AQA Alliance is designed to overcome this roadblock.

Previously, private and public sector groups have attempted to step up to the challenge of designing models for assessing performance and reporting data. Yet, the proliferation of multiple, uncoordinated and sometimes conflicting initiatives has significant unintended consequences for different stakeholders.

Centura Health at Home wins care award

Centura Health at Home, a part of Centura Health, Colorado’s largest health care provider, was recognized as one of the 2006 HomeCare Elite in the October issue of OCS, a post-acute health care information publication.

The review, conducted by OCS using publicly available information, ranked home health care agencies based on quality, improvement and financial performance measures. The listing represents the top 25 percent of the most successful home care providers in the United States.

Centura Health at Home provides home care nursing and therapy, home and residential hospice, home infusion, oxygen services and home medical equipment throughout Colorado. The organization provides care to more than 20,000 patients each year and has locations in Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Durango.

Multiple Sclerosis workshops scheduled

A series of workshops is being held at the Multiple Sclerosis Alliance of Southern Colorado.

Targeted to people living with MS, as well as their families and friends, the next workshop, “An Update on Medicare Part D” is scheduled for Nov. 29. Barbara Giddings, an educator for a pharmaceutical company, will discuss changes in Medicare Part D and provide information about how to change providers.

“An Overview of Current Medications Prescribed for the Management of MS” will be held Dec. 6.

The seminars are from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Partnership/MSA offices, 2377 N. Academy. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Call 633-4601, extension 101.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.