Summary: “In the last decade, the federal government has undertaken considerable steps to control the way doctors care for their patients,” Andrew Lam writes over at KevinMD, in a doctor’s eye view of quality measurements. “Its goal is to improve healthcare quality and lower costs, but the very regulation tasked with achieving this has created a paperwork nightmare that actually does the opposite: it impedes care and increases costs. I’m referring to the Physician Quality Reporting System, or PQRS, which originated with the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. I doubt you’ve heard of it, but your doctor surely has, and chances are he or she considers it an expensive and burdensome bureaucratic reporting exercise that does practically nothing to increase quality. Here’s how it works. A doctor examines a patient and submits a bill to Medicare. To be fully paid, the doctor must also document that certain tasks were performed. If this is not done correctly, he is penalized with a reduction in payment. While this sounds reasonable, let me explain why it’s an awful way to measure a doctor’s “quality.” For one thing, many of the clinical tasks we’re bound to report are extremely basic. Like reviewing a patient’s medications. Or checking blood pressure. And here’s one example from my field of ophthalmology: I have to confirm I examined the macula of a patient with macular degeneration — which is about as elementary as asking a cardiologist to confirm he listened to the heart. Even the most uninformed doctor would perform these tasks. Medicare is spending tax dollars to scrutinize measures that set the bar so low that the exercise is meaningless.” Andrew Lam, “The costly Medicare boondoggle that’s wasting tax dollars and infuriating doctors,” KevinMD.com.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded... More by Jeanne Pinder