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Ann Emerg Med. 2008 May;51(5):622-31. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2008.01.010. Epub 2008 Mar 21.

Evidence-based perspectives on pay for performance and quality of patient care and outcomes in emergency medicine.

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1
Department of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine, and Centers for Clinical and Genetic Economics, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC, USA.

Abstract

Pay for performance is gaining momentum as a means to improve the quality of clinical care. Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has expanded pay for performance initiatives to incorporate 9 emergency care metrics, including indicators for cardiac, pneumonia, and stroke care. The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) have published methodology for the selection and creation of performance measures for quantifying the quality of cardiovascular care. The purpose of this study is to grade each of the 9 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative emergency medicine process measures according to the ACC/AHA criteria related to clinical evidence (yes, no, indeterminate). Five of the 9 recently selected metrics in emergency medicine do not appear to meet all of the ACC/AHA criteria for measurement selection. Several of the metrics, including aspirin for acute myocardial infarction (mean hospital adherence 94.7%; SD 6.7%) and pulse oximetry for community-acquired pneumonia (mean 99.4%; SD 2.0%), already have high levels of performance nationally, which raises uncertainty about the overall cost-effectiveness of quality improvement interventions for these measures. Formal methodology needs to be established for future selection of performance measures for quality improvement programs in emergency care. These performance measures should focus on unique aspects of emergency and acute care, including recognition and treatment of time-sensitive life-threatening conditions, assessment of patients with undifferentiated signs and symptoms, and care of all-inclusive geographically based patient populations. In key emergency therapeutic areas, the evidence linking treatment and improved patient outcomes will require additional study before inclusion in pay for performance programs. New research initiatives are needed to assess the effect of timely administration of emergency department interventions on patient outcomes.

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