From the Washington Office

From the Washington Office: An opportunity to address policymakers on the concerns of Fellows


Meaningful Measurement of Surgical Quality

I also addressed concerns relative to the meaningful measurement of surgical quality. Despite having expended significant human and financial resources toward helping Fellows succeed in MIPS, the College is becoming increasingly concerned that MIPS is not actually measuring surgical quality, and therefore, is not a quality program for surgery and serves primarily as a payment program.

As evidence, the most recent quality metric data available (from the 2015 Physician Quality Reporting System) show that many of the CMS quality measures reported by surgeons have little to do with improving the quality of the actual surgical care provided to patients. For general surgeons, the two most commonly reported measures were the documentation of a patient’s medications in the medical record and tobacco use screening. While no one would deny the importance of either of these activities, neither is of much real value in the effort to measure the quality of surgical care provided. In another, perhaps even more illustrative example, one of the most common quality measures reported by urologists was inquiring of their patients whether they had received a pneumovax. This obviously has little to do with why one would see an urologist, much less the quality of care provided.

As an organization, the ACS and its members are absolutely dedicated to improving the quality of care they provide to their patients. However, the quality measures forming the basis of the assessment of their care must first be relevant to the surgical care they provide, and second be achievable. Fellows are increasingly expressing concerns about the burdens imposed by the Quality component of MIPS and believe their efforts to participate do little to meaningfully measure the quality of surgical care they provide. I asked that the Ways and Means Committee hold a hearing specifically addressing issues relative to the Quality component of MIPS.

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