NQF Study: Improvement on Two Quality Measures Could Save 144,000 Lives

A study by the National Quality Forum (NQF) estimates that approximately 144,000 lives could be saved over 10 years by improving just two key areas of quality: colorectal cancer screening and blood pressure control.

The study, published in Health Affairs Academic, used national data to estimate the impact of improved performance on two specific quality measures widely used in public and private sector accountability programs.

Value-based care programs rely on quality measures to track performance and reward improvement. While there have been numerous estimates of the costs of measuring quality of care, until now researchers noted that there was little information available on the compensatory human benefit of such value-based payment models. NQF said its research provides evidence supporting the potential of such programs to save lives and prevent harm to patients.

Colorectal cancer and hypertension are estimated to cause approximately 52,000 and 691,000 deaths annually, respectively, in the United States. If health plans improve performance to the 66th percentile on just these two quality measures (a level researchers believe is achievable), there would be 34,000 fewer deaths from colorectal cancer and 110,000 fewer deaths from hypertension if improvements are maintained for 10 years. .

The research effort was inspired by a value-based purchasing program in California from the state’s health exchange marketplace, Covered California, which has also been adopted by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and Medi- Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The Quality Transformation Initiative (QTI) aims to improve the quality of care in the state by imposing financial penalties on health plans that perform below the 66th percentile.

“This research affirms that through careful performance measurement and meaningful incentives for health insurance plans under our Quality Transformation Initiative, we can improve quality, promote health equity and ultimately save lives.” of thousands of Californians,” said Monica Soni, MD, chief medical officer. Covered California official, in a statement. “We are aligned with CalPERS and our state’s Medicaid Agency, the Department of Health Care Services, and together our plans serve more than 40 percent of Californians. As buyers, this alignment on quality and equity is poised to drive life-saving improvements for Californians across the state.”

The NQF study projected the effect if a similar improvement standard were applied nationally. The authors used data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). ) to model population health benefits for the California market and nationally.

“Policy attention is shifting to ensure that the health insurance people have provides affordable access to good health care with the potential to improve health outcomes,” said Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., academic. Principal and Vice President of Health Care Coverage and Access. & Monitoring health system performance, for the Commonwealth Fund, in a statement. The private nonprofit foundation provided funding for the study. “This important work illustrates the potential of value-based purchasing initiatives to save lives,” she added.

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