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Evaluation of AHRQ's Partnerships for Quality Program

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Appendix B: Summaries of PFQ Grantee Activities (continued)

PFQ Grant Summary: Measuring Performance and Bioterrorism Preparedness: An Impact Study

Lead Organization: Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
Partner Team: Technical Expert Panels; hospitals, community health centers, and other health care organizations
Title: Measuring Performance and Bioterrorism Preparedness: An Impact Study
Topic Area: Core Performance Measurement/Quality Improvement and Emergency Preparedness
Principal Investigators: Jerod M. Loeb, PhD, Executive Vice President, Division of Research
AHRQ Project Officer: Sally Phillips, PhD, RN
Total Cumulative Award: $1,181,351
Funding Period: 9/2002-9/2006
Project Status: Bioterrorism Preparedness: complete, pending submission of final report; Performance Measurement—data analysis continues; Received no-cost extension until September 2007

1. Project Description

Goals.  This project had two distinct components. The first sought to evaluate the impact of evidence-based performance measurement on perceptions about and the perceived value of quality improvement efforts. For this component, the project examined evidence-based process-of-care practices for five core performance measure sets: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, pneumonia, pregnancy and related conditions, and surgical infection prevention. It analyzed relationships between core performance measure data and perceptions about their value, actions taken, and the impact of interventions.  The second project sought to assess the existence of linkages for emergency preparedness between health care organizations and community responders and other stakeholders, including public health, public safety, and governmental administrative agencies. This component planned to compare these linkages in communities that had experienced a disaster with those that had not, and identify exemplary practices. 

Activities and Progress

Performance Measurement Project. In Year 1, to determine the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of core measures records abstraction, JCAHO project staff re-abstracted up to 30 medical records at 30 randomly selected test hospitals for JCAHO core measure sets in acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure (HF), community-acquired pneumonia (PN), and pregnancy and related conditions (PR). Project staff compared results of the re-abstractions, data element by data element, to the original hospital data abstraction. Following this, 90 hospitals conducted their own re-abstraction of the core measure data. In Years 1 and 2, project staff analyzed the data and conducted interviews with hospital staff to discuss discrepancies and identify systemic issues with the data collection process.

During Years 1 and 2, surveys were sent to approximately 1,971 hospitals to investigate staff perceptions of quality improvement efforts and the value of core performance measurement and actions taken in response to the measurement process.  The results were compared to hospitals' performance measure data.  Project staff conducted site visits to 40 of the hospitals that completed the survey (36 on-site and 4 teleconference visits). During Year 3, invitations to participate in an online survey were sent to the same hospitals. In Years 3/4, in-person interviews were conducted at 29 hospitals, representing a mix of those with high perception/high performance and those with low perception/low performance. The in-person interviews were extensions of the surveys, providing more detail about factors influencing perceptions and performance.  Data analysis is ongoing and will be completed during the one-year no cost extension. 

Bioterrorism Preparedness Project.  In Year 1, the project assembled a Technical Expert Panel (TEP) comprised of nine panel members representing a range of organizations and professions, including hospital administrators, emergency response personnel, local and state public health officials, and law enforcement, and engaged a project consultant.  The grantee, with assistance from the TEP, developed a framework of seven major topic areas to be used in assessing the existence of linkages among health care organizations, community responders, and stakeholders, and to identify exemplary practices.  

In Year 2, based on the TEP's recommendations, the grantee developed a questionnaire to be sent to a randomly selected sample of U.S. accredited and unaccredited medical/surgical hospitals from the American Hospital Association database.  Prior to implementation, the questionnaire was pilot-tested. The project team invited 1,750 hospital CEOs to participate in the study, and the final questionnaire was mailed to the CEO-designated contact person for the 678 hospitals that agreed to participate. Representatives of 575 hospitals returned completed questionnaires. The project team analyzed the data to determine the prevalence and breadth of hospital and community linkages related to emergency preparedness.  The aggregate results were sent to participating hospitals when they agreed to participate in the study.   

In Year 3, project staff continued to analyze the data from the hospital questionnaires and developed and submitted a manuscript describing the results of the hospital analyses.  Project staff also identified potentially innovative practices for inclusion in the Joint Commission publication, Standing Together: An Emergency Planning Guide for America's Communities.

Also in Year 2, the grantee assembled a new Technical Expert Panel subgroup for assessing community emergency preparedness linkages in health centers.  The eight-member panel drew on both existing TEP members and referrals from the TEP, including an expert from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to lead the subgroup.  This new subgroup examined the hospital questionnaires and provided feedback and suggested revisions for the resulting 60-item questionnaire to be implemented in federally funded health centers. In Year 3, the grantee mailed the health center questionnaires to the executive directors of 890 federally funded CHCs, of which 307 responded. The project staff worked with the TEP subgroup for health centers to develop a strategy for analyzing data. The remainder of Year 3 was used to conduct an initial health center data analysis, to convene the health center TEP subgroup for a discussion of aggregate findings, and to develop and disseminate these findings.  

A request for a six-month no-cost extension (to March 2006) of the bioterrorism component of the grant was requested following the scheduled project-end date of September 30, 2005; this allowed completion of (1) multivariate analysis of health center data, (2) identification of innovative health center practices, (3) manuscript preparation (health center results), (4) dissemination of innovative health center practices, (5) continued preparation and finalization of project report, and (6) presentation of findings.

2. Partnership Structure/Function

JCAHO was the primary leader and actor for both studies funded under this grant. The JCAHO project team did not have any partners for the performance measurement project, although it viewed the grant funding as an opportunity to get feedback from hospitals on JCAHO's required performance measures, and how they might be improved for use in quality improvement activities.  For the bioterrorism preparedness project, the grantee convened an advisory TEP and TEP subgroup.  The TEPs met with the JCAHO project staff approximately every six months.

Table 1. Major Partner Organizations and Roles in the Project



Role in Project

Lead Organization (grant recipient)

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)

Developed questionnaires, conducted and provided general oversight for the studies

Wrote reports and disseminated results

Key Collaborators

Bioterrorism Project:

Technical Expert Panel (TEP)—Hospitals
Technical Expert Panel Sub-Group—health centers

Advisory group included AHA; helped to construct hospital questionnaire and guide analysis

Advisory group of health center representatives, including DHHS/HRSA's Bureau of Primary Health Care; helped to construct health center questionnaire and guide analysis

Target Organizations

Performance Measurement Project: Nearly 1500 hospitals participated in the 2 surveys; 69 hospitals participated in the in-person interviews

Bioterrorism Project: 1,750 (random sample) Joint Commission accredited and unaccredited hospitals; 890 (population) federally funded health centers

Conducted data abstraction and re-abstraction; completed surveys and submitted them to project staff; identified participants for the in-person interviews. (The 29 interviews in the second round of in-person interviews each took approximately 2 hours to complete.)

Completed questionnaire and submitted results to JCAHO project staff

3. Project Evaluation and Outcomes/Results

Performance Measurement Project. The baseline level of data reliability appears to be acceptable for measures used to assess and improve hospital performance.  Twenty of 21 performance measures examined showed no statistically significant differences when comparing originally abstracted with re-abstracted data using the Chi-Square test statistic for rate-based measures and the Wilcoxon test statistic for continuous variable measures.  The one statistically different measure reflected higher performance measure rates when derived from the originally abstracted data (p <0.05).  The mean data element agreement rate for the 61 data elements evaluated was 91.9 percent and the mean kappa statistic for binary data elements was 0.68.  Preliminary findings indicate that overall data element agreement rates varied among measure sets and, in general, JCAHO independent abstractors identified more data element discrepancies than did the self-re-abstractors; in other words, it was found that hospital self-abstracted data was fairly accurate and reliable, although it was better when a third party conducted the re-abstraction.  This information is important to those considering payment tied to performance measures.

For the first survey, project staff received approximately 1,141 completed surveys from 851 hospitals. From these respondents, a sample of 40 hospitals was recruited to participate in 36 in-person and 4 teleconference interviews.  For the second survey, nearly 600 hundred hospitals responded and 29 in-person interviews were completed. Preliminary results suggest relationships between the perceived value of core measure sets and a variety of quality improvement actions. Further analysis will attempt to evaluate the relationships between improvement actions measure rates, as well as assessment of qualitative data obtained during the in-person interviews. 

Bioterrorism Preparedness Project. Of the 678 hospitals that received questionnaires, 575 submitted completed surveys. The study found deficient linkages between hospitals, public health, and other critical response entities.  The abstract of the article, published in Annals in Internal Medicine, June 2006 reported: 

"In a weighted analysis, most hospitals (88.2%) engaged in community-wide drills and exercises, and most (82.2%) conducted a collaborative threat and vulnerability analysis with community responders. Of all respondents, 57.3% reported that their community plans addressed the hospital's need for additional supplies and equipment, and 73.0% reported that decontamination capacity needs were addressed. Fewer reported a direct link to the Health Alert Network (54.4%) and around-the-clock access to a live voice from a public health department (40.0%). Performance on many of 17 basic elements was better in large and urban hospitals and was associated with a high number of perceived hazards, previous national security event preparation, and experience in actual response."

Of the 890 health centers that received questionnaires, 307 returned the survey.  While 80 percent reported that their communities had a group or committee responsible for emergency preparedness or response planning, only 54 percent reported being represented in the group by either a staff member (46 percent) or by the Primary Care Association or network/consortium (8 percent).  About half (54 percent) of health centers reported that the community had established a role for all (22 percent) or some (32 percent) sites in the event of an emergency.  Thirty percent reported that their role had been documented in the local/county emergency operations plan. Twenty-seven percent had completed a collaboration threat and vulnerability analysis with community responders for all or some sites. Twenty-four percent of health centers reported that all (5 percent) or some (19 percent) sites had participated in community-wide drills/exercises since 2001. Thirty percent of responding health centers reported having responded to an actual public health emergency or disaster, while an additional 11 percent reported having responded to a potential or suspected emergency.

Stepwise logistic regression analysis also was performed.  The main outcome variable for this analysis was a composite measure of the strength of community linkages.  Having the highest cumulative linkages indicator score was associated with 7 items:  health centers that had an emergency operations plan that was developed collaboratively with the community emergency management agency, and those that had participated in community-wide training, were 3.4 and 3.6 times more likely to have the highest summary indicator score, respectively.   Those whose staff had seen the community emergency plan were nearly 3 times more likely to have the highest indicator score, and those who had staff who were involved in community planning were more than twice as likely to have the highest score.  Health centers whose community plan addressed their health need for additional supplies and equipment were 3 times more likely to have the highest summary indicator scores.  Health centers that reported having a community emergency management agency with the ability to reach a health center contact around the clock, and those that reported staff as present or being represented at the community emergency operations center during a response, were approximately 2.3 times more likely to have the highest summary indicator score.

4. Major Products

Performance Measures Project:

  • Mebane-Sims IL, Williams SC, Schmaltz SP, Koss RG and Loeb JM. "Influence of Perceptions About Performance Measurement on Actions Taken to Improve the Quality of Patient Care." Paper presented at the Annual Research Meeting 2006, Seattle, WA, June 25, 2006.
  • Williams SC, Watt A, Schmaltz S, Koss RG, Loeb, JM. "Assessing the Reliability of Standardized Performance Measures: Self versus Independent Reabstraction." Int J Quality Health Care 2006;18:246-255.
  • Williams SC, Watt A, Schmaltz S, Koss RG, Loeb, JM. "Reliability of Standardized Performance Measures: Self versus Independent Reabstraction." Paper presented at the American Health Quality Association 2006 meeting, January 2006.
  • Williams S, "Assessing the Reliability of Standardized Health Care Quality Indicators Implemented Across the United States." Paper presented at the International Society for Quality in Health Care, Indicator Summit, Dallas, TX, November 2, 2003.
  • Watt A Williams S, Lee K, Robertson J, Koss RG and Loeb JM, "Keen Eye on Core Measures." Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, 2003, 74(10):21-25.
  • Watt A, "A Reliability Assessment of Performance Measure Data." Poster presentation at the Academy Health 2004 Annual Research Meeting, San Diego, CA, June 2004.

Bioterrorism Preparedness Project:

  • Loeb JM, Braun BI, Wineman NV and Schmaltz SP. "Emergency Preparedness Planning and Exercises: Comparing Hospital and Health Center Community Integration."  To be presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, November 2006.
  • Wineman NV, Braun BI, Barbera JB, Schmaltz SP and Loeb JM.  "The Integration of Health Centers into Community Emergency Preparedness Planning: An Assessment of Linkages." Presented at Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, Seattle, WA, June 2006.
  • Braun BI, Wineman NV, Finn NL, Barbera JA, Schmaltz SP and Loeb JM. "Integrating Hospitals into Community Emergency Preparedness Planning." Annals of Internal Medicine 144(11):799-811, 2006 Jun 6.
  • Wineman NV, Braun BI, Finn NL, Schmaltz SP and Loeb JM.  "The Integration of Healthcare Organizations into Community Emergency Preparedness Planning: A National Baseline Assessment." Poster presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, December 2005, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Finn N, Braun BI and Wineman NV. "The Integration of Hospitals into Community Emergency Preparedness Planning and Response: A Baseline Assessment."  Poster presented at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, June 2005, Boston, MA.

5. Potential for Sustainability/Expansion after PFQ Grant Ends

Research findings from these projects could generate new research opportunities following the end of the grant period.  Some of the findings may be useful in developing research questions to evaluate relationships between core performance measures data and clinical outcomes, and in evaluating and designing pay-for-performance systems.  Some say the survey instrument for the bioterrorism component is a useful checklist for hospital emergency preparedness measures.  An examination of the depth of community linkages also could be undertaken.

Return to Appendix B Contents

PFQ Grant Summary: Using Incentives to Drive Leaps in Patient Safety

Lead Organization: The Leapfrog Group
Partner Team: Purchaser (employer) and payer (health plan) groups in 6 different markets; Evaluators/researchers from 3 universities; Consultants from Medstat, Towers Perrin, and Ropes & Gray
Title: Using Incentives to Drive Leaps in Patient Safety—Implementation Phase
Topic Area: Incentive and reward programs to motivate providers to improve quality
Principal Investigators: Suzanne Delbanco (Leapfrog)
AHRQ Project Officer: Michael Hagan
Total Cumulative Award: $1,295,537
Funding Period: 10/2002-9/2006
Project Status: Received no-cost extension until September 2007

1. Project Description

Goals. This project began with a one-year "planning grant," which developed and recruited payer and purchaser groups to pilot-test financial incentive and reward programs targeting hospitals and consumers, in order to speed the adoption of The Leapfrog Group's recommended hospital patient safety practices. On behalf of the millions of Americans for whom many of the nation's largest corporations and public agencies buy health benefits, The Leapfrog Group aims to use its members' collective leverage to initiate breakthrough improvements in the safety, quality, and affordability of health care.

The goal of the subsequent three-year "implementation grant" was to implement these pilot projects in at least six health care markets around the country and evaluate their effectiveness. Specific aims were to (1) document and understand payers' and purchasers' interest in incentive and reward programs, and identify organizational and market characteristics related to integrating such programs into their purchasing decisions; (2) document and understand the decision making processes purchasers and payers use to design and implement interventions aimed at improving hospital quality and safety; and (3) measure the impact of their interventions on employees' choice of hospitals and hospitals' adoption of Leapfrog's recommended quality and patient safety practices.

Activities and Progress  

Phase I pilots:

  • GE, Verizon, and Hannaford Brothers Collaborative/Albany-Schenectady market. These three large employers collaborated in designing and implementing a bonus program for hospitals and financial incentives for consumers to use hospitals meeting Leapfrog hospital patient safety standards. The group chose to use Leapfrog's Hospital Rewards Program quality and efficiency measures in five clinical areas. Hospitals would be eligible for rewards based on how they performed in each of the areas. Leapfrog provided and arranged for technical assistance to this group, including hosting webcasts for local hospitals and health plans about the program, and conducting outreach to hospitals to solicit their participation. The pilot has not yet been implemented (it was on hold as of June 2006) because of hospitals' reluctance to participate due to uncertainty about the availability of bonus funds, and because the data vendor has not yet agreed to release the data necessary to compile the measures. The evaluation team has monitored the pilot's progress and had planned to conduct a survey of hospitals regarding their willingness/unwillingness to participate, but this survey also is on hold.  
  • Healthcare 21 (HC21) Business Coalition/Eastern and Central Tennessee. This pilot worked to implement a "tier and steer" incentive program to direct patients to high performing hospitals.  Leapfrog helped with measure development and legal assistance. HC21 constructed a consumer guide on selecting hospitals based on Leapfrog's recommended patient safety practices (aka "leaps"), and has been working with a few employers on new benefit designs to encourage employees to use higher performing hospitals. The majority of employers, however, were wary of proceeding with any benefit plan changes because health plans in the state also are designing new benefit packages along these lines, a role that employers believe health plans are better suited to fill, and the project has stalled.  
  • Boeing Company/Seattle, Wichita, Kansas and Portland, Oregon.  This pilot adopted a benefit differential to encourage certain members of its PPO to use hospitals that met Leapfrog's quality and patient safety practices. Under an arrangement negotiated with two unions representing certain Boeing employees, the Hospital Safety Incentive allowed PPO-enrolled employees to obtain 100% coverage after the deductible for services in a "Leapfrog­compliant" hospital, versus 95% coverage in a non-compliant hospital. Boeing does not plan to continue the benefit design, but machinists with the benefit in their current contracts will retain the design for three more years.  Boeing worked with Leapfrog, Medstat, and its plan administrator to identify which hospitals met Leapfrog's standards.  The evaluation team used a pre- and post-measurement design of employees affected and unaffected by the program.  Boeing currently is examining the post-measurement results.
  • Maine Health Management Coalition (MHMC)/Maine. This pilot created a bonus pool of about $1 million for high performing hospitals. Hospitals could receive bonus funds by meeting certain performance standards. The 10 participating hospitals and 9 participating purchasers contributed to the bonus pool; the funds from hospitals are redistributed from lower to higher performing hospitals with purchasers contributing some "new money." Hospitals can lose their contribution if they do not meet certain performance thresholds, or gain a bonus for exceeding them. Medstat collected data to calculate a score based on patient satisfaction, patient safety, clinical measures, and efficiency. Leapfrog assisted with incentive and reward methodology and administration. Intended to begin in July 2005, the pilot's implementation was delayed until 2006 when 2005 performance results were reported; Medstat issued the rewards in the summer of 2006. The evaluator tracked the pilot's methodology and results, and conducted a survey of employers and hospitals involved in the pilot to determine their concerns.

Phase 2 pilots: 

  • Blue Shield of California. This pilot built on a hospital tiering program (Network Choice), which was developed using Leapfrog's hospital patient safety measures. Blue Shield used the grant resources to develop a complementary "Physician Informational Tiering Project" to build awareness among physicians and Blue Shield plan members about the cost and quality differences between hospitals and ambulatory care facilities, and influence their choice of hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. The project surveyed physician and member attitudes about the hospital tiering program to shape its design in the future.  Despite a monetary incentive, Blue Shield has struggled to get physicians to participate in the survey.   
  • Buyers Health Care Action Group (BHCAG)/Minnesota. This pilot aimed to (1) measure and publicly disseminate market-, employer-, and plan-specific Opportunity Rate scores (the rate of admittance to Leapfrog compliant hospitals per opportunity), and (2) increase health plan participation in efforts to improve hospital quality by linking the plans' Opportunity Rate scores to the "buy" decision.  (Health plans would be tracked using the National Business Coalition on Health's eValue8 tool, which health plans use to submit information to purchasers about their clinical quality and administrative efficiency.)  The pilot is based on other research showing that, even when hospital patient volume shifts do not occur as a result of incentives or quality information, measurement and public dissemination of performance data creates a competitive environment. Leapfrog provided ongoing assistance with updates and applications of the Leapfrog algorithm to calculate Opportunity Rates, as well as qualitative analysis and cataloguing of health plan and employer practices.  The pilot is currently on hold because of turnover at Watson Wyatt, who is assisting BHCAG.

2. Partnership Structure/Function

The partnership consisted of the lead organization, The Leapfrog Group, founded in 2000 by The Business Roundtable to mobilize employer purchasing power to improve health care quality by recognizing and rewarding providers that take "big leaps" in advancing quality, patient safety, and affordability. Leapfrog recruited six groups from among its membership to conduct pilot projects; those selected included major employers (Boeing and the GE/Verizon/Hannaford Brothers group); three employer health coalitions (in Maine, Minnesota, and Tennessee) and one health plan (Blue Shield of California).  Leapfrog arranged for technical assistance to the pilot projects by three groups of consultants: Towers Perrin (actuarial services), Medstat (data analysis), and Ropes and Gray (legal counsel).

Each pilot functions separately, but Leapfrog conducts monthly calls with the entire group, including external evaluators and some of the TA contractors.  Leapfrog held in-person meetings with grant participants in February 2005 and January 2006 to discuss lessons learned and key takeaways. Leapfrog also wrote and distributed a newsletter in which they reported on the pilots' progress and included links to tools and resources for the pilots.  

In addition, Leapfrog engaged a group of three evaluators to conduct individualized process and outcome evaluations of each of the pilots. The evaluators communicated weekly with Leapfrog.  With some of the pilots, the evaluators acted both as consultants and evaluators.  In Maine, for example, the evaluators attended meetings and participated in teleconferences to provide formative feedback. For the GE pilot, the evaluators also acted as consultants and held discussions with them, attended meetings, and provided feedback. Other pilots, such as BHCAG and HC21, did not ask evaluators for assistance.  

Table 1. Major Partner Organizations and Roles in the Project



Role in Project

Lead Organization (grant recipient)

The Leapfrog Group

Lead and coordinate grant activities; provide TA to pilot sites and oversee other TA and the evaluation team

Key Collaborators

Pilot Groups: 2 large employers, 3 business coalitions, and 1 health plan) in CA, KS, ME, MN, NY, OR, TN, WA



Implement hospital incentive and reward programs in their respective markets

Evaluate pilots; develop case studies: Dennis Scanlon (Penn State), John Christianson (U. Minnesota), Eric Ford (Tulane-Texas Tech)

Target Organizations

Hospitals and selected other providers in the 6 health care markets

Report data on performance measures selected by each purchaser group; adopt Leapfrog or other hospital quality and patient safety standards

3. Project Evaluation and Outcomes/Results

Only two of the projects (Boeing and MHMC) have reached implementation stage and have been fully evaluated; the evaluation of a third pilot project (Blue Shield of CA) is not yet complete.  However, all six of the pilots provided insights or lessons as to the challenges of implementing incentive and reward programs through multi-stakeholder efforts.  The evaluators found the following results:

  • Boeing:  Leapfrog expected the Boeing pilot to produce the most rigorous empirical findings about the impact of incentives on behavior in the health system, because the evaluation compared the program's effects on employees in the PPO with modified hospital benefit to those in Boeing's regular PPO.  However, the evaluation did not find that the program had any effect on consumer choice of hospital, primarily because employees' physicians did not refer or admit them to the higher performing hospitals.  Employees would not use hospitals where their physicians did not practice, regardless of the extra cost. In addition, only a few hospitals in the three Boeing markets qualified for the bonuses, so there were not enough options for consumers or physicians. These findings may be useful to other organizations seeking to alter health benefit designs so as to shift market share to better performing hospitals. 
  • MHMC:  Interviews with program participants (hospitals and employers) revealed satisfaction with the pilot's leadership and its structure, including the choice of measures, weighting of the measures, and funding.  There was uncertainty among participants about whether the pilot should continue, with many citing the need for information about the pilot's outcomes.  The interviews provided insight into reasons such a pilot may be unsustainable, including:  insurance companies developing similar programs; administrative burden/costs being too high; performance measures being publicized and misinterpreted by the public; and the need for new bonus money not being sustainable. Many respondents felt the pilot was valuable in that it sent a signal to health plans about the interest in having transparent and standardized measures and receiving rewards based on those metrics. Without involving the health plans, however, many felt the program would not be sustained. These findings from the interviews offer lessons to similar incentive programs, particularly the need to involve hospitals, purchasers, and health plans.       
  • Blue Shield of CA: When completed, the physician survey will provide lessons on physicians' awareness of the variation in hospital quality and safety and offer input into the design of an insurance product that gives physicians incentives to steer patients to higher performing hospitals.  

Although the three other pilots have stalled, they do offer lessons regarding the barriers that such purchaser-led efforts face. For example, leadership constraints can impede progress, particularly if those negotiating with hospitals and health plans lack the authority to make decisions and enforce them in their organizations and benefit plans. In addition, purchaser-led efforts to establish performance standards may run into stakeholder opposition; at least one of the pilots encountered resistance from hospitals regarding participation in the program.  Strong leadership may help with participation, but resistance is still likely. One pilot found it more difficult than originally anticipated to align standards and monetary incentives for providers. As the evaluators learned, hospital administrators do not think that current performance measures are accurate, so they are unlikely to support reimbursement models that put significant money at risk until measurement is more sophisticated.  Further, employers are unlikely to sustain incentive programs without a positive return on investment.  

4. Major Products

The following publications are planned but not yet complete:

  • Boeing Pre- and Post-Survey Analysis (estimated completion date Summer 2006; we had not heard as of October 2006 if this was completed).
  • MHMC Pilot Case Study (estimated completion date Fall 2006).
  • A Multi-Purchaser Incentive and Reward Program: Challenges and Barriers to Achieving Results (from GE, Verizon, Hannaford Brothers pilot—estimated completion date September 2006; we had not heard as of October 2006 if this was completed).
  • Assessing Doctors' Potential Use of Comparative Patient Safety, Cost, and Quality Reporting in California Surgery Centers (from Blue Shield pilot—estimated completion date November 2006).
  • Promise and Problems with Supply Chain Management Approaches to Health Care Purchasing (from GE, Verizon, Hannaford Brothers pilot—completion date TBD).

The documents below were presented at Leapfrog's Incentives and Rewards Workshop in July 2006:

  • "Incentives and Rewards Best Practices Primer: Lessons Learned from Early Pilots," The Leapfrog Group (lessons based on the 6 PFQ pilots and 7 in RWJF Rewarding Results program).
  • "The Leapfrog Group's Incentive and Reward Pilots: Key Lessons Learned."

5. Potential for Sustainability/Expansion after PFQ Grant Ends

Leapfrog will not be sustaining the program, but some of the individual pilots will likely continue. Leapfrog's idea for the program was to start new projects and learn what it could from them.  Since the pilots began, the movement for incentives has taken off and Leapfrog feels there is no need to continue them.  They have used the lessons from the pilots to refine the design of the Leapfrog Hospital Rewards Program so, in that sense, the program is continuing.  Furthermore, all of the pilots will continue their relationship with Leapfrog, since they are also members of Leapfrog's Regional Roll-Out program, in which Leapfrog employer members work with other local employers, as well as local hospitals, health plans, physicians, unions, consumer groups, and others, to implement the Leapfrog action plan in their region.  

MHMC will meet in August 2006 to decide whether to sustain its program, and if so, how best to involve the major health plans in Maine and additional employers.  Blue Shield of California is using the survey feedback to support its ongoing pay-for-performance agenda.  Boeing's benefit design is in place for certain employees for three additional years, but the company does not plan to continue or expand the design for other employees.

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