It’s common practice for consumers to read reviews before purchasing a product or hiring a service provider. Consumers want to know how their peers rated the quality of the product or service, and if others would recommend it. Did it live up to expectations? Was it effective, and worth it?
When it comes to health care, recognizing and measuring quality is also an important issue, and consumers and patients need to become more engaged in quality measurement efforts, according to Cary Sennett, MD, PhD, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Measuring the quality of care can help payers to reward better care, providers to take action to improve care, and patients to make informed decisions about where they seek care.
Dr. Sennett has extensive experience with both public and private sector organizations to improve the quality and value of health care in the United States. As a former executive vice president at the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), he played a leadership role in building out the organization’s national standard measurement set (HEDIS®), and establishing a value-based purchasing dynamic in managed care.
In an interview with the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), Dr. Sennett explained that in theory, quality measures are important because they allow patients to evaluate health care choices based on value rather than price alone. In practice, however, patients aren't typically looking at quality measures to inform their choices. But health care organizations are using these measures to drive improvement in care where it's needed, which Dr. Sennett said is “absolutely essential,” and in the long-run benefits patients, too.
Dr. Sennett emphasized the importance of considering patients’ preferences and experiences when developing measures. “It's so important that we think about measures that really are important to patients, and focus on making improvements in the way health care is delivered.”
But there are challenges with developing quality measures that really matter to patients, Dr. Sennett noted. Like many other industries, in health care the “right” data is not always available, “so we tend to measure the things that are easier to measure, which aren’t the things that are the most important to know,” said Dr. Sennett.
Dr. Sennett also suggested that metrics are needed to provide guidance so that health care organizations committed to improving quality can measure their progress and understand the “important things they need to do.” In order to benchmark progress and recognize best practices, we need to deploy national, standardized measures, he said.
To learn more about addressing the gaps in quality measurement, watch our webinar, “Mind the Gap: Improving Quality Measurement in Accountable Care Systems,” with Dr. Kate Goodrich, director, Quality Measurement and Health Assessment Group, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Dr. Mark McClellan, director, Health Care Innovation of Value Initiative, Brookings Institution; Dr. Tom Valuck, partner, Discern Health; and Kimberly Westrich, vice president, health services research, NPC.
Dr. Sennett was one of several health care thought leaders who expressed the importance of useful quality measures to improve patients’ health, and the overall health system. Watch our video montage featuring health care thought leaders.