Ambulatory surgery centers are scrambling to develop better quality measures for their care.
With more surgeries now performed in outpatient settings than in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers have few ways to demonstrate the quality of care they can offer patients.
“We are probably 10 years behind in our ambulatory (quality measurement) journey than where we are in our inpatient journey,” said Dr. David Levine, senior vice president of advanced analytics and informatics at consultancy Vizient, which develops quality measures.
About 60% of surgeries once performed in a hospital are now performed in an ambulatory setting and the number of measures officially sanctioned by the CMS is getting smaller instead of larger. The agency only required ASCs to report four measures this year as part of its Quality Reporting Program—or otherwise face a 2% Medicare payment penalty for 2021—which is actually half the number of measures ASCs had to report in 2017 for payment this year.
The low number of measures leaves consumers seeking care in outpatient surgery centers largely in the dark about the quality of care they will receive. “People are entrusting their lives in these centers, someone is taking a knife to your body. You want to believe precautions are taken and quality matters and you don’t have that assurance right now,” said Leah Binder, CEO of the Leapfrog Group.
Given the dearth of measures and the rising complexity of cases moving to the outpatient setting, ASCs have initiated efforts to create more measures, focusing mostly on better outcome measures, and to go beyond CMS reporting requirements.