Healthcare quality has improved

November 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

For the third year in a row, healthcare quality for millions of Americans improved substantially, despite broad public concerns over cost, the uninsured, patient safety and other system-wide ills, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

For the third year in a row, healthcare quality for millions of Americans improved substantially, despite broad public concerns over cost, the uninsured, patient safety and other system-wide ills, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance's State of Healthcare Quality report. The report, which reflects the healthcare available to 71 million Americans enrolled in various healthcare organizations, documented significant improvements in clinical performance on more than a dozen key measures among selected health plans serving the Medicare, Medicaid and commercially insured populations.

Among the positive findings in this year's report were substantial gains on a range of clinical measures reported by commercial health plans. For example, between 2000 and 2001, the percentage of patients who had their high blood pressure under control rose from 51.5% to 55.4%. In 1999, this rate was 39%.

Cholesterol control rates have registered similar increases. Among those insured by commercial managed care organizations, 59.3% of heart attack patients had their cholesterol under control in 2001, nearly a six-percentage-point increase from the previous year, and an addition of 14 percentage points from 1999 levels.

Medicaid, Medicare performed well

For the first time, the NCQA's report includes performance results from Medicaid and Medicare organizations for 2000. When viewed against results from the same year for the commercial sector, the data reveal that on the whole, the care received in the three sectors is comparable, a finding of special note considering the demographic and access issues faced by the public programs. Notably, Medicaid and Medicare organizations actually outperformed commercial plans in several measures, especially diabetes care.

There was a considerable difference in performance between Medicare organizations accredited by the NCQA and those that were not. For example, 57.8% of heart attack patients enrolled in accredited Medicare organizations in 2000 had properly controlled cholesterol levels, as opposed to 44.1% in nonaccredited plans. PR

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