Measuring health care

Accountability is tough in health care–so many variables affect both process and outcome that setting benchmarks is tough. Apparently, the federal government wants to try anyway. They’ve announced a new tool called the State Snapshot Web tool. Here’s what it provides for state policymakers:

* A ranking of 15 representative measures of state health care quality.
* Summary measures of the quality of types of care for each state.
* Comparisons of each state’s summary measures to regional and national performance.
* Performance meters that show a state’s performance relative to the region or nation.
* Data tables for each state’s summary measures that show the NHQR detailed measures and numbers behind the performance meters.

Diabetes is an area of special concern as the percentages of occurrence keep rising across the U.S.–they’re measuring quality of care, differences in treatment by group, and money saved by managing the disease better. They’re also working on a guide to go with the tool.

It’s a good start. Once health care providers must begin meeting standardized performance measures, maybe next we can break the stranglehold insurance companies have on who gets what care.