This post is authored by Gary Puckrein, PhD, president and chief executive officer of the National Minority Quality Forum.
Physicians and the medical community have reached a fork in the road: we need to document that quality and reduced costs are related. By doing so, we hope to offer policymakers a new framework in which to measure the value of medicine. The conjectures:
- An avoidable mortality index can be an indicator of unnecessary acute events (disease, hospitalizations, disability and death) in a population. Such an index may have utility in localizing the performance of our health care system, thus enabling the investigation of gaps in outcomes of care.
- There are signals that avoidable acute events are non-random occurrences. There is a possibility that they manifest at predictable frequencies within clinical and geographic sub-populations, and are sentinels of health care and health status disparities.
- Unnecessary acute events have financial implications. At least one study found that 36% of diabetes-related hospitalizations were avoidable. If that percentage holds true for Medicare beneficiaries, the savings could well be over $10 billion per year.
- By reducing unnecessary acute events, we may be able to establish an association between improved quality and bending the cost curve, thereby offering a counterpoint to those who believe reducing provider reimbursements is a desirable cost savings device.
The American College of Cardiology, the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists have joined forces to put our conjectures to the test and have formed the CardioMetabolic Health Alliance. The objective of the Alliance is to improve cardiometabolic risk factor control in diverse populations, including high blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar, dyslipidemia, abdominal obesity (waist circumference) and elevated triglycerides; and to provide more effective and coordinated care for people with established cardiometabolic disorders.
In pursuit of its mission, the Alliance will study the possibility that predictable patterns of unnecessary acute cardiac events occur in communities, and that these patterns are measurable and amenable within the context of current treatment modalities. By using the ACC’s PINNACLE Registry and CathPCI Registry, as well as NMQF’s Cardiovascular Disease Index and U.S. Diabetes Index, the Alliance will explore the possible correlation between cardiometabolic disease and unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations; and how these findings can be used to design predictive models and quality improvement interventions targeted for providers and patients at high risk for an acute cardiovascular episode.
Members of the CardioMetabolic Health Alliance and ACC will be meeting at the 2012 Cardiometabolic Health Congress this week in Boston, Ma. Visit the Alliance’s website for more information www.cardiometabolicha.org. Also read more about CardioMetabolic Syndrome in an article in the July/August issue of Cardiology magazine.