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New ambulatory vs. critical-care confusions

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A look at the usefulness and reality of new federal quality and safety benchmarks this year, which are not leaving everyone happy.

Consider that, as Hospitals & Health Networks reports, a “major shift is taking place in Medicare’s Physician Quality Reporting System program, while the National Quality Forum is examining a group of relatively unpopular patient-safety measures for possible revision.”

”{S}ome physicians — including specialists who work in ambulatory care — continue to be concerned that they will have a difficult time finding measures that realistically can be met.

”Some of the worry is driven by changes to the measures that can be used in PQRS reporting. Emergency department physicians face a limited number of choices that can be applied to their specialty. ”

H&HN said that Catherine Polera, chief medical officer for the emergency medicine division of Sheridan Healthcare, noted that ”the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services removed some of the core measures that may have worked in an emergency department setting and replaced them with ambulatory care measures. The new measures ‘relate more to primary care than they do critical care.’

”Although primary-care measures have some application to the ED, ‘we see more trauma, we see more chest pain patients, more abdominal pain patients, and I’m not seeing those related measures,’ she says.”

‘”Determining the implications for a hospital is a little more complicated,” Akin Demehin, senior associate director of policy for the American Hospital Association (AHA), told H&HN {which is part of the AHA}. “‘It mainly boils down to whether a physician bills for the procedure or whether the hospital bills for the physician. Whoever submits the bill, generally speaking, is going to be responsible for the reporting.”’



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