The National Committee for Quality Assurance added four measures to its industry-standard evaluation of health plans. The new measures from the accreditation group are aimed at encouraging physicians to step up efforts to manage the health of older adults and discouraging overuse of expensive imaging tests. Under its 2005 Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set, known as HEDIS, the accreditation group will evaluate whether Medicare beneficiaries have been asked and advised about the importance of physical activity for patients with problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis and osteoporosis. Other measures will track whether Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are regularly screened for glaucoma and whether heart-attack patients who are prescribed beta-blockers continue to take the drug for six months following the attack. Using guidelines developed with the American Medical Association and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the NCQA will scrutinize providers' ordering of magnetic resonance and computed tomography images for lower-back pain in the first 30 days of initial symptoms. Read more at the HEDIS Web site.-- by John Morrissey
HEDIS increases focus on chronic ailments
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