5 strategies for managing ASC quality measures

There is an industry-led effort to develop quality measures, publicly report quality data and advance quality in ambulatory surgery centers. And while quality reporting in the ASC industry is still voluntary — CMS pays for reporting, not performance — there is no doubt quality reporting is on its way to becoming mandatory for ASCs.

"This is not an option," Ann Geier, RN, CNO of Birmingham, Ala.-based SourceMed, said in a presentation at the Becker's 14th Annual Spine Orthopedic and Pain Management meeting in Chicago. "When I say it's not an option, I mean it's going to impact your bottom line if you don't do it."  

Ms. Geier offered the following five strategies for managing ASC quality reporting measures.

1. Ensure you have the most up-to-date version of the implementation guide. The ASC Quality Collaboration, an organization that launched in 2006 to help lead the industry in reporting and advancing quality in ASCs, published an implementation guide to help ASCs implement and collect quality data. The measures are vetted by the collaboration's internal panel and by an external panel. The measures have also been pilot tested for validity, feasibility and reliability. The "ASC Quality Measures: Implementation Guide" is available at ascquality.org. "The implementation guide is critical," Ms. Geier said. "You have to have that handy."

2. Download the current version of the specifications manual from the QualityNet site. This manual provides measure information and specifications for the Medicare ASC Quality Reporting Program. The most up-to-date manual, version 5.1, is for data collection from July 1 through December 31 and is available on qualitynet.org. It helps ASCs measure all patient volume of procedures on specific CPT codes. ASCs that measured in 2015 are now reporting in 2016, according to Ms. Geier. "CMS is just tracking volume to see where we are doing what," she said.

3. Submit your data on time. For calendar years 2016-2017 payment determination, data submission deadlines are available here. ASCs must be careful to submit data on time because once an ASC submits quality measure data it is considered to be "participating" in the program. Though the quality reporting program is voluntary, continued participation is assumed unless an ASC formally withdraws from the program. "If you decide to stop submitting data, your reimbursements will go south if you don't withdraw," Ms. Geier said. "Don't sign up if you are not ready to keep doing it."

4. Download CMS public data to see how your center compares to others.  

ASCs have been reporting quality data for 10 years and CMS made this data public May 4. "We are finally reaching a point when the quality of care we provide in ASCs is public," Ms. Geier said. The comprehensive data is available on medicare.gov/hospitalcompare, and each facility can be compared to state and national results. Patients, payers and other ASCs are looking at this data, so you should be too, Ms. Geier advised.

5. Develop quality improvement studies to improve performance, thus improving patient safety and quality of care. There is a difference between quality assessment and improvement, Ms. Geier noted. "Quality improvement is all about what we can do better," she said. "We assess a lot of things in our center, but the next step is to ask, 'Do we actually take steps to improve?'"


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