Organizations Will Collaborate on Quality Performance Measures
The American Medical Accreditation Program (AMAP), the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) announced a joint effort to coordinate performance measurement activities across the entire health system. A Performance Measurement Coordinating Council will be established to ensure that performance measures and processes are consistent, efficient and relevant. The council will have 15 members. The organizations developed a consensus statement titled “Principles for Performance Measurement in Health Care,” outlining the rationale behind performance measurement efforts, appropriate uses, areas on which measures should focus, guidelines for using data for comparative purposes, general requirements for cost effective measurement and specific opportunities for collaboration. AMAP focuses on standards of quality for the individual physician, JCAHO accredits health care facilities including those providing ambulatory care, acute care, clinical laboratory services, and long-term care, and NCQA focuses on systems of care for defined populations such as HMOs and other health plans. The collaborative effort responds to recent recommendations from the President's Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, which calls for greater coordination in performance measurement efforts.
HCFA Publishes Medicare Practice Expense Proposal
The long-awaited proposal of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) for revising the method used by Medicare to pay for practice expenses in physician payment was published in June. The proposal, however, calls for a completely different approach than the resource-based method developed by HCFA last year, an approach supported by the General Accounting Office as well as many organizations in the physician community, including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The new method, rather than correcting the historic inequities in physician payment, would perpetuate these inequities. AAFP officials met with HCFA officials in mid May to express concern about the new proposal, which is essentially not resource-based. The proposal would result in redistribution of payment dollars significantly less than the earlier proposal. HCFA has called for a 90-day comment period.
Iowa Physician Named Rural Health Practitioner of the Year
Clifford C. Smith, M.D., McGregor, Iowa, was named Rural Health Practitioner of the Year at the 21st Annual Conference of the National Rural Health Association. Dr. Smith has served the rural communities of northeastern Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin as a family practitioner since coming to the Mississippi River town of McGregor in 1962. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first squadron of black American pilots, during World War II. He graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., in 1953 and practiced medicine in New Jersey before returning to his home state of Iowa. The opportunity to be part of a community and part of his patients' lives drew Dr. Smith to rural practice.
Recipients of five other national awards presented at the conference were Al Grant, Polatka, Fla., the Louis Gorin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Health Care; Chiricahua Community Health Centers Inc., Elfrida, Ariz., Outstanding Rural Health Practice; Alachua County Organization for Rural Needs Inc., Brooker, Fla., Outstanding Rural Health Program; Debra M. Phillips, M.D., Quincy, Ill., Distinguished Educator Award; and Keith J. Mueller, Ph.D., Omaha, Neb., Distinguished Researcher Award.
Robert Higgins, M.D., Is Inaugurated as President of WONCA
Robert Higgins, M.D., Anacortes, Wash., a family physician and past president of the AAFP, became president of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) in June at the 15th World Conference on Family Medicine in Dublin, Ireland. Dr. Higgins, also a former chair of the AAFP Board of Directors and current chair of the AAFP's delegation to the American Medical Association, is the second American to be elected president of WONCA. The 16th WONCA World Conference will be held in the Republic of South Africa in March 2001.
Kellogg Foundation and NLM Launch MEDLINE Public Education Campaign
A public education campaign “Medical Questions: MEDLINE Has Answers” has been launched by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in partnership with the Friends of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the Public Library Association, the Medical Library Association and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The campaign will encourage physicians and consumers to use MEDLINE to research medical topics, one of the fastest growing uses of the Internet. Last year, about 15.6 million adults searched online for health information—43 percent of all users of the Internet. The free MEDLINE Web address is http://www.nlm.nih.gov.
National Eye Institute Publishes Clinical Trials Database on Their Web Site
An interactive, searchable clinical trial database has been added to the Web site of the National Eye Institute (NEI) at http://www.nei.nih.gov. The database provides detailed information about ongoing and completed clinical trials supported and conducted by the NEI since 1970. Each trial description includes information on the background of the study, patient eligibility criteria, patient recruitment, current status of the study, results to date, a bibliography and implications for clinical practice. Users of the Web site can access information by identifying themselves as researchers, health care professionals, public and patients, educators and media. Searches can be conducted by keyword, eye disease or location. Information is provided on how to participate in a trial as well as how to refer a patient to a trial. Other highlights of the NEI Web site include clinical alerts, news releases, full text of publications and online ordering; and information and materials from the National Eye Health Education Program.