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Quality in 2009: Stuck in Neutral?

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, October 22, 2009

Health plans in the New England region continued to outpace all others and the quality of care in the South Central region tended to lag the most. Among the findings:

  • Health plans in New England were 16.3% more likely to treat diabetic patients according to accepted guidelines compared with health plans in South Central states;
  • Health plans in Mid Atlantic states were 14.1% more likely to adhere to guidelines for treating patients with cardiovascular disease compared with plans in South Central states.
  • New England health plans were 19.2% more likely to ensure that all patients received all appropriate cancer screenings compared with health plans in South Central states.
  • Health plans in Pacific states were 20.8% more likely to appropriately treat and follow up with patients with mental health and substance abuse issues compared with health plans in West North Central states.

Also for the third year, NCQA measured the value of health plans by combining quality measures with assessments of how many resources were used to achieve those results. Data were collected in four key chronic disease areas: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Wide variations were reported in both spending and quality—with essentially no relationship between cost and quality.

With all these statistics, though, O’Kane suggests that one point needs to be kept in mind: "Quality needs to be the foundation of health reform."


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Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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