Friday, October 3, 2008

New you can use: Health care quality varies widely by region

While it’s kind of a “no duh” headline, it is also important to remember. The National Committee for Quality Assurance’s new report shows that New England plans perform better than the average and that South Central plans fall short of the average. What’s more the group notes that HMOs generally score better than PPOs. PPOs trail HMOs significantly in several areas, according to the report, like follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness and persistent beta-blocker treatment after a heart attack.

NCQA urges that any health reform proposal include the following to further reduce disparities in care quality by geography:

-Require routine quality measurement and reporting by all health plans and providers.
-Establish benchmarks for improvement in each region of the country.
-Enact reforms that tie payment to the quality of care delivered.

Cost is also known to vary widely by region. That’s caused some to consider medical tourism. At our recent national conference, I was reminded that doesn't have to mean India as Northeastern residents could fly first class across the country to receive comparable care at a much lower cost. So what are you doing to take advantage of quality and cost disparities to serve your employees and improve your bottom line?

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