Top Healthcare Quality Issues for 2014, Part 1
6. Emergency Department Wait Times
With more patients having coverage through the health insurance exchanges and Medicaid, emergency room physicians are anticipating more crowding in hospital emergency departments. A recent New York Times article seems to provide evidence for that based on what has been observed in Oregon.
That's why emergency department wait time measures will become an increasingly transparent, publicized, and important way political leaders, consumers, employers and patients will compare quality of hospital care.
Now posted on Hospital Compare, these measures vary widely within communities and across the country. For example, at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, patients needing inpatient admission waited on average 1,031 minutes, or more than 17 hours. But at St. Luke Hospital & Living Center in Marion, KS, patients waited only 63 minutes for admission.
7. Permanent SGR Repeal
Though Congress approved a three-month patch or bridge compromise, allowing a .5% physician pay upgrade instead of a 23.7% cut as required by the statutory formula of the sustainable growth rate formula, what quid pro quo will eventually be required will be the subject of much debate in March.
Bills that would permanently repeal the SGR set deadlines for EHR interoperability and make quality data required under an enhanced value-based purchasing program for physicians available to the public.
It would also bring a new level of transparency that quantifies physician payments and procedures.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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