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Improving Quality of Care Through Executive Incentive Plans

Eric Reehl, for HealthLeaders Media, September 16, 2011

Over the last several years, healthcare quality has come under increased scrutiny. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine's report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, highlighted the lack of consistency in the quality of care in the American healthcare system. The IOM report showed that the causes of these variations in quality include the increasingly complex nature of healthcare delivery, increases in chronic conditions, and advances in science, medical technology, and information technology.

Many hospitals and healthcare systems reacted by attempting to improve the quality of care they delivered to their patients. Today, with healthcare reform and accountable care organizations, the industry continues to emphasize quality. One way that healthcare systems address quality improvement is by adding quality goals to executive incentive plans.

Quality Initiatives

After the IOM study, many organizations reacted with further studies of healthcare quality and quality improvement initiatives. These initiatives sought to measure performance as a tool to assess healthcare quality.

Many healthcare organizations used the quality measures in these studies as a method to assess quality and measure performance. In a recent survey on quality measures used at hospitals and healthcare systems, we found that the CMS Hospital Quality Initiative measures were the most common. When this survey was conducted, more than half of the respondents used the CMS measures to assess quality.

CMS measures have become popular because CMS collected ample data for comparative purposes, its measurements are standardized across the industry, the validity of the data is generally accepted in the industry, and healthcare organizations have a strong financial incentive to report their results, which CMS makes available to the public.

While the CMS HQI measures are popular, they are not the only measures used to assess healthcare quality. The survey also found that 9% used standards developed by state or local regulatory bodies and 23% used some other internally developed measure.

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