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  Professionals   Governments   Consumers   Public Affairs

CMS News

For Immediate Release: Contact:
Wednesday, September 15, 2004 CMS Office of Public Affairs

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In an effort to help consumers make the best decisions about their health care, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) are adopting standardized performance measures for hospitals to report how well they provide health care services, CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., announced today.


“We are strongly committed to providing consistent measures,” McClellan said.   “And CMS will continue to work hard with health care consumers, providers and other stakeholders to make available comprehensive and reliable quality measures on health care providers.”


CMS and JCAHO today issued a technical manual for hospital quality measures that provides common definitions for each of the quality measures that are being collected and reported.   Hospitals will use these common definitions to report on their quality for both the National Voluntary Hospital Reporting Initiative and for JCAHO accreditation, beginning with January 2005 discharges.


Participating hospitals currently report data giving consumers information about performance in three medical conditions – heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.   These conditions can result in hospital stays and are common among people with Medicare.


This effort joins other CMS activities to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries living in nursing homes and receiving care from dialysis centers, home health agencies and health plans through public reporting of measures that assess the quality of care that is delivered. 


Since 2002, CMS has participated in a joint public-private initiative to foster public reporting of the quality of care available in the nation’s hospitals.


The initial set of measures selected for use in the voluntary hospital reporting initiative were measures common to CMS and the JCAHO, but there were technical differences between the ways that the measures were specified by the two organizations. These technical differences increased the data collection and reporting burdens on hospitals.    


“ CMS and JCAHO are making it easier for hospitals to report on the quality of their services, making it even easier for beneficiaries to make apples-to-apples comparisons,” McClellan said. “This is expected to lead to improvements in the quality of care available in all hospitals.”


“CMS is committed to the goal of moving toward a single comprehensive set of quality measures to be used by all stakeholders.   This agreement between CMS and JCAHO to adopt identical measures is an important first step in this direction,” said Sean Tunis, MD, CMS’ Chief Medical Officer.


In addition to the common set of measure specifications, the two organizations expressed their desire to assure that alignment of these and other measures will be maintained in the future, including common schedules for future modifications, which will help hospitals plan and implement changes to their own systems for quality monitoring.


“Through the release of the joint technical manual, CMS and JCAHO have demonstrated their commitment to be responsive to the needs of hospitals in the pursuit of quality improvement,” Tunis said.


The technical manual published today can be found on the CMS website at

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