Hospital-based quality of care improves alongside meaningful use, studies suggest

Hospital-based quality of care improves alongside meaningful use, studies suggest

For the better part of the last decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have mandated the use of electronic medical records and other new technologies. While these initiatives were ostensibly aimed at improving quality of care and patient outcomes, the health care industry has only seen pockets of lower readmission rates since the beginning of the meaningful use program.

However, according to several recent studies, hospitals are seeing a marked increase in the quality of care delivered to patients. Conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the 2013 National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report indicate that patients are receiving more accurate and timely care in hospitals across the country

Rising patient outcomes
The AHRQ publishes a report on the state of the health care industry annually, and this year's look at the medical community found that the CMS' attempts to improve patient care through technology are finally paying off.

According to the reports, 70 percent of Americans are receiving the recommended treatment for their medical issues in hospital-based settings. Aside from the correct treatments, this figure also takes into account several other metrics, such as effectiveness, patient safety, timeliness, patient-centeredness and care coordination.

The AHRQ associated these improvements with actions that the CMS has taken to improve quality of care in certain areas within the health care industry. For example, if a hospital participated in the CMS' Hospital Compare site, which allows patients to self-report their experiences, all 16 quality measures showed some rate of improvement, while 14 reached 95 percent patient satisfaction.

The AHRQ is not the only agency that has found evidence of a positive trend regarding patient outcomes. According to a report released by the CMS, the prevalence of health care-associated conditions has dropped off. In 2010, there were 145 HACs per 1,000 patients, but that number fell to only 132 in 2012. These figures show fewer incidences of conditions contracted solely due to a hospital environment, such as pneumonia, circulation issues and pressure ulcers.

While these figures may not represent the end goal of the meaningful use program, they should be encouraging for doctors who have been struggling to keep up with the progression of the initiative's stages. As most physicians are focused on treating their patients, the recent increases in quality of care should draw more support from this group.

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