ARTICLE: The Volume and Cost of Quality Metric Reporting
JOURNAL: JAMA. 2023 Jun 6;329(21):1840-1847. doi: 10.1001/jama.2023.7271.
Importance: US hospitals report data on many health care quality metrics to government and independent health care rating organizations, but the annual cost to acute care hospitals of measuring and reporting quality metric data, independent of resources spent on quality interventions, is not well known.
Objective: To evaluate externally reported inpatient quality metrics for adult patients and estimate the cost of data collection and reporting, independent of quality-improvement efforts.
Design, setting, and participants: Retrospective time-driven activity-based costing study at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, Maryland) with hospital personnel involved in quality metric reporting processes interviewed between January 1, 2019, and June 30, 2019, about quality reporting activities in the 2018 calendar year.
Main outcomes and measures: Outcomes included the number of metrics, annual person-hours per metric type, and annual personnel cost per metric type.
Results: A total of 162 unique metrics were identified, of which 96 (59.3%) were claims-based, 107 (66.0%) were outcome metrics, and 101 (62.3%) were related to patient safety. Preparing and reporting data for these metrics required an estimated 108 478 person-hours, with an estimated personnel cost of $5 038 218.28 (2022 USD) plus an additional $602 730.66 in vendor fees. Claims-based (96 metrics; $37 553.58 per metric per year) and chart-abstracted (26 metrics; $33 871.30 per metric per year) metrics used the most resources per metric, while electronic metrics consumed far less (4 metrics; $1901.58 per metric per year).
Conclusions and relevance: Significant resources are expended exclusively for quality reporting, and some methods of quality assessment are far more expensive than others. Claims-based metrics were unexpectedly found to be the most resource intensive of all metric types. Policy makers should consider reducing the number of metrics and shifting to electronic metrics, when possible, to optimize resources spent in the overall pursuit of higher quality.
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