Are Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) effective?

CMS contracts with Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) in each state to help improve quality for Medicare patients. QIOs have a reputation for being relatively passive –Quality Monitoring Organizations might be a more apt description. But as CMS takes a more aggressive role in quality improvement, QIOs are under pressure to demonstrate results. For example, the QIOs are implementing CMS’s drive toward electronic medical records in physician offices, and they need to show results to have their next Scope of Work approved.

So it was interesting to see the article in JAMA (Do Quality Organizations Improve the Quality of Hospital Care for Medicare Beneficiaries?) The authors examined data from 4 QIOs and concluded that,

Hospitals that participate with the QIO program are not more likely to show improvement on quality indicators than hospitals that do not participate.

The information is from the late 1990s and early 2000s, so QIOs will assert that it doesn’t reflect their current performance. However, it does confirm their reputation for passivity. Let’s hope that their performance will improve.

June 14, 2005

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