The American College of Cardiology (ACC) recently testified at the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health during a special hearing to explore how private sector payors are rewarding physicians who deliver high quality and efficient care. ACC CEO Jack Lewin, MD, discussed several of the quality improvement collaborations underway in cardiology and what lessons can be applied across the healthcare system to simultaneously reduce unnecessary readmissions, complications, testing, and ineffective spending.
Lewin’s testimony focused on the power of data as exemplified by ACC’s experience with the National Cardiovascular Data Registry and the importance of decision support tools in helping care providers actually use evidence-based guidelines and appropriate use criteria to “get science to the point of care” to ensure not only the right therapy and/or test, but also engage patients in the decision making process. The testimony also focused on the ways the ACC is currently working to “put the data to work” through programs like Hospital to Home, Imaging in FOCUS and PINNACLE. All three programs use data to identify areas for improvement and provide networking and educational support for sharing of best practices and performance improvement.
The testimony highlighted the college’s newest undertakings in Wisconsin and Florida that combine data collection, decision support and quality improvement initiatives into a focused project that documents clinical quality, resource use and cost variation in the treatment of stable ischemic heart disease. These “SMARTCare” projects which are driven by the ACC’s state chapters and the ACC in collaboration with integrated healthcare systems, payors and multi-stakeholder collaborative groups are examples of programs that are on track to ensure appropriate care based on the latest science, reduced costs and high levels of patient engagement in the care process.
Lewin called on Medicare and private payors to encourage, through incentives, the development and widespread use of clinical data registries that allow the tracking and improvement of healthcare quality in concert with payment programs that encourage higher quality.
“The pathway to reducing the rate of growth of U.S. healthcare spending and its alarming contribution to the national deficit will require that we align payment incentives with improved data-driven outcomes,” he said. “The task requires improving care rather than cutting care and physician leadership, working together with other clinicians, hospitals, insurers, and Medicare, will be necessary to effect these needed improvements in our healthcare system.”