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Selected research from leading health care experts whose findings have a direct bearing on public policies effecting medical progress. Research is chosen based on its quality and relevance by the Medical Progress Today editorial staff.

Selected Research

Methods Commonly Used To Create “Report Cards” May Overestimate the Quality of Health Care
Dr. Catherine MacLean, Rachel Louie, Medical Care, 2-23-06

In this study from the RAND Corporation, researchers warn that we should adjust our scoring process for rating health care providers in order to reach a truer picture of health care quality.

Methods commonly used to create medical “report cards” that grade the quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals may be resulting in grades that are too high, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
The study examined care provided to a group of vulnerable older patients. Researchers using information from claims filed to receive payment and other administrative records to assess the quality of medical care found that the patients received 83 percent of the recommended care. But when researchers graded the care using a broader set of standards after examining medical records — used less often for medical report cards — they found that same group of seniors received just 55 percent of the recommended care.
“Our findings suggest that examining administrative information alone does not provide an accurate picture of whether people are receiving appropriate medical care,” said the study's lead author, Dr. Catherine MacLean of RAND Health and the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System. “It appears that report cards based on just administrative information are incomplete and may lead to grade inflation.”

As a solution, the researchers suggest increasing use of electronic patient medical records, which would make it easier to track complex medical treatments and ensure patients were actually receiving recommended standards of care.



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