NQF Pushes Forward with Value-based Purchasing Measures

Under contract with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the National Quality Forum (NQF) recently added four efficiency measures that “could be combined with quality metrics as part of the Medicare value-based purchasing plan set to start in 2015,” American Medical News reports.

Two of the new measures evaluate relative resource use for patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and a third looks at total costs for treating pneumonia. The final measure focuses on total costs for hip and knee replacement.

These four measures join four others, endorsed in January, which include metrics to examine resource use for patients with diabetes and cardiovascular conditions, and total resource use and total cost of care for all patients.

The central concept of value-based purchasing in health care is that buyers should hold providers accountable for both the cost and quality of care. Value-based purchasing seeks to reduce inappropriate care and to identify the best-performing providers. Ideally, those providers and health care systems that provide the best care at the best cost would be rewarded with greater numbers of patients.

By measuring resources used, rather than raw costs only, the NQF “is aiming to give apples-to-apples comparisons of physician efficiency that are not distorted by geographic price variations,” American Medical News continues.

The American Medical Association (AMA), among other groups, supports value-based purchasing initiatives, but has expressed concern whether such a system could be implemented without penalizing doctors who treat the most difficult cases.

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