HHS to hold industry summit to improve quality programs

The Department of Health and Human Services is convening a discussion forum with healthcare stakeholders to create a roadmap for aligning and improving data reporting and quality measures.

The Quality Summit will include 15 non-government industry leaders, as well as government officials, who will participate in “discussions surrounding the modernization of HHS’s quality programs that will build on a patient-centered approach that increases competition, quality and access to care,” and also “discuss the task of identifying burdensome regulations and the mechanisms needed to improve providers’ abilities to deliver high-quality care to their patients,” states an agency announcement.

According to HHS, its quality programs—which are administered by AHRQ, CDC, CMS, HRSA and the Indian Health Service—have not undergone a “systematic objective review” since they were initially developed nearly 20 years ago.

The agency contends that gaps have been identified between the different quality measures that have only served to weaken overall program integrity. As a result, HHS says it is “undertaking a review to ensure quality and value transparency for all patients served by these programs.”

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Eric Hargan, acting U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), speaks during a White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. The White House is weighing a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, three administration officials said, amid frustration with the top diplomat's slow pace of hiring and repeated clashes with President Donald Trump. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

The summit, chaired by HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and quality and patient safety expert Peter Pronovost, MD, is meant to comply with an executive order signed late last month by President Trump directing agencies to improve price and quality transparency, including streamlining the measurements the federal government uses to track the quality of healthcare.

Also See: Trump presidential order takes aim at price transparency

“Over the last decade, we have seen efforts by HHS to incentivize the provision of quality care, only to be met with limited success,” said Hargan in a written statement. “This is in part because patients have not been empowered with meaningful or actionable information to inform their decision making. At the same time, important quality programs across the department have remained uncoordinated among the various agencies and inconsistent in their demands on healthcare providers.”

According to Hargan, the Quality Summit “will not only strengthen the protections these programs afford patients, but also improve value by reducing costs and onerous requirements that are placed on providers and ultimately stand between patients and the high quality care they deserve.”

HHS is currently accepting nominations for summit participants through the end of the month. Those interested in applying should submit a one-page cover letter summarizing their qualifications and a resume or CV, which can be submitted via e-mail to DeputySecretary@hhs.gov with the subject line: “Quality Summit Application.”

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