Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Does patient demand respond to physician quality?

The answer to this question must be ‘yes’.  Everyone wants to see a good doctor compared to a bad doctor.  However, what defines a “good” doctor?  Patients perception of what makes a doctor good (e.g., bedside manner, clinic amenities) may not correspond to what technocrats or policmakers think (e.g., process of care measures).  Even if […]

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The cost of quality measurement

An interesting editorial in JAMA by Schuster, Onorato and Meltzer (2017) makes the following point: So how should quality measures be prioritized? Many factors are currently considered, including a measure’s expected effect on patients and health care, potential for promoting improvement, scientific underpinnings, usability, and feasibility. But there is a major omission from this list: […]

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Identifying high quality providers in the presence of heterogeneous preferences

Why is it so difficult for health care payers to identify a “best” provider?  A paper by Gutacker and Street (2017) explains: There are two key elements that complicate assessment of how well public sector organisations are doing their job (Besley & Ghatak, 2003; Dixit, 2002). First, they lack a single overarching objective against which […]

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Can physician quality be captured by a single composite measure?

Value-based payment for providers is often predicated on being able to measure physician quality with a single composite measures.  For instance, Medicare’ s Value-Based Payment Modifier (Value Modifier) combines a variety of individual quality metrics across domains to create a single quality score.  Payment to physicians is adjusted based on a combination of physician quality […]

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Does more spending improve outcomes?

A number of studies have claimed that increased health expenditures may result in no better, or even worse outcomes.  For instance, a paper by Fisher et al. (2003) looking at patients with acute myocardial infarction, colorectal cancer, or hip fracture finds that “Quality of care in higher-spending regions was no better on most measures and […]

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Diagnostic Ability and Quality of Care

Quality of care often is seen as how physicians and other health care providers treat patients with a given disease.  Accurately diagnosing the disease a patient has, however, is in almost all cases a necessary condition to provide high-quality treatment.  Nevertheless, a physician’s ability to accurately diagnose a disease is rarely measured within exsting quality […]

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Measuring the quality of cancer care

How do you measure the quality of care patients with cancer receive?  How long they live?  Avoiding side effects?  Patient satisfaction? Process measures? Further, there are multiple types of cancer and different cancer have different recommended treatments and methods of providing care.  To further complicate the issue, new cancer treatments are being introduced in rapid succession; […]

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Quality of care and prices

There have been a number of studies that have examined how publicly reporting quality ratings (for health plans, physicians, hospitals or other health care providers) affects market share.  Less attention has been paid to the effect of measured quality on health care prices.  A paper by Huang and Hirth (2016) aim to answer just this […]

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Can we accurately classify physicians as high vs. low quality?

Medicare aims to tie 90% of reimbursement to quality measures.  The potential for quality-linked reimbursement to incentivized improved quality of care, however, depends critically on whether physician quality can be measured reliably. Profiling individual physicians is difficult. Sample sizes are small and attributing patients to a single physician can be difficult (as Mehtrotra et al. 2010 […]

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Are quality bonus payments based on hospital readmissions reliable?

Maybe not.  That is the answer from a study by Thompson et al. (2016).  Using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) State Inpatient Databases (SID) for six states (AR, FL, IA, MA, NY,WA)  from 2011 to 2013, the authors measure hospital performance reliability for the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP).  The define reliability as follows: […]

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