The Importance of Outcome Measurement in COPD - Part 1

Posted on in Product and Service Solutions

By Dave Lyman, RRT, VP of Nationwide Respiratory for VGM & Associates

Quality, in any endeavor, doesn’t just happen. It is, rather, the result of trial and error, practice, and hard work. In short, it is the result of learning. Similarly in health care, quality assurance has been an evolutionary process, dating back thousands of years with expressions of concern about how to care for other people properly.

This is what we’re talking about when we discuss outcome measurement in COPD populations – providing people with proper care. By simply collecting data, we can create individualized care pathways to help with both understanding and increased compliance, leading to a better quality of life for the patient.

That means better care for millions of Americans. According to the COPD Foundation, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It leads to 700,000 hospitalizations each year, and “it affects 12.7 million Americans, costing nearly $50 billion annually.” Approximately 19.6 percent of COPD patients hospitalized in the United States are readmitted within 30 days, accounting for $17 billion in annual expenses.

Readmission Penalties Heading Toward Record

Hospitals are seeing increased costs, too, with the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) from CMS, which penalizes hospitals for having higher than expected readmission rates. COPD is one of the conditions affected by this program. In the coming months, the readmission penalties on hospitals will reach a new high as Medicare withholds more than half a billion dollars in payments, punishing more than half of the nation’s hospitals – 2,597 in total.

With stakes this high, we as HME providers have to remember that we must still show value to payers and our health systems, and we have an opportunity to do so. HME providers are in patients’ homes more than any other health care service, and we can prove our value by measuring our patient’s quality of life, reducing cost, and improving outcomes.

Stay tuned for part two of this series as we discuss more specifically why HMEs can and should get involved in COPD outcomes. We’ll also look more closely at the role HMEs and outcomes play in reducing readmissions.