Monday, April 25, 2011

New Brief Highlights that Higher Health Care Costs Do Not Necessarily Equal Higher Quality

Although the U.S. spends more per person on health care than any other nation, the quality of that care frequently falls far short of what it should. A new policy brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) examines major efforts undertaken across the country in recent years to better define health care quality, identify the most meaningful ways to measure it, and determine how best to improve and increase access to it.

A 2001 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report found that U.S. health care was insufficiently safe, effective, patient-centered, efficient, timely, or equitable. It also noted that preventable medical errors caused an estimated 44,000 – 98,000 inpatient hospital deaths per year.

The latest research reveals that while some progress has been made, there is still a considerable distance to go. The cost in human life or reduced health exacted by medical errors and quality shortfalls is the most pressing reason to push forward, but the need to control ever-escalating health costs adds urgency. The brief’s authors outline how the Affordable Care Act’s quality-related provisions—including hospital pay-for-performance programs and other “value-based” strategies—are expected to jumpstart quality improvement efforts over the next several years.

Read the policy brief.

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