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May 2010 Issue

Jeffrey Susman, MD, chair of the department of family medicine
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Program Tracks Doctors' Success in Delivering Care

By Katie Pence
Published May 2010

Without that pop quiz from a teacher or the yearly evaluation from a boss, one may never know if they are truly learning or performing to their fullest potential.

This idea can be applied to physicians and the quality of care they provide to their patients.

After more than six months, Jeffrey Susman, MD, chair of the Cincinnati Aligning Forces for Quality (A4FQ) Quality Measurement and Public Reporting Work-group, says this initiative, supported by the Health Improvement Collaborative (HIC) of Greater Cincinnati and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is doing just that to improve health care in the Tristate.

The Health Improvement Collaborative is also the sponsor of the patient-centered medical home pilot which began last August under the leadership of Robert Graham, MD, professor of family and community medicine, and is continuing to develop as well.

"About one-third of primary care physicians in Greater Cincinnati, including UC internal and family medicine practices, are on board to track and evaluate how they are performing against selected evidence-based diabetes measures,” says Susman, who is also the chair of the department of family and community medicine at UC.

"Our goal is to eventually have the participation of all primary care physicians in the region.”

Susman says that so far, practices have been submitting patient data once annually.

It is analyzed, and physician ratings are assigned based on an agreed-upon methodology.

Participating physicians get immediate access to the data so they can begin to use it for quality improvement purposes.

A pilot was conducted in 2009 to test the process of data submission, measuring and reporting. Approxi-mately 258 physicians—50 practices—took part.

Focus groups with physicians have also been held to continue to gain insight into how to sustain this work locally in a manner that will improve the overall quality of care in the community.

"Participating practices have submitted their data, and AF4Q is now completing audits,” Susman continues.

"Reports will be shared among these groups for quality improvement purposes, and the public will have access to the annual ratings through a consumer-friendly website, where they will also find information regarding the patient’s role in achieving quality care, in summer 2010.

"We can’t improve what we can’t measure,” he adds.

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