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Surgical Specialization May Trump Volume as Measure of Quality

By Tinker Ready  
   July 28, 2016

The BMJ paper is important because volume is an incomplete measure of quality, said David Chang, PhD, MPH, MBA, of the Codman Center for Clinical Effectiveness in Surgery, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He is one of the authors of an editorial entitled: The Hidden Consequences of the Volume Pledge: "No Patient Left Behind"? and posted pre-publication in Annals of Surgery.

Chang agrees that the paper offer options for smaller hospitals that may suffer under volume restrictions.

"The implication would be, if you are a low volume hospital/surgeon, you may be able to compensate by specializing," he says. "Again, the research is incomplete there."

The research may also be welcomed by providers suffering under the growing number of quality measures, who worry this might just be another one.

Chang says the reason there are so many quality measures is that the measures in use are imprecise. Before adding more incomplete measures, "we should take a step back and really be thinking about how we measure quality." 

Tinker Ready is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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