Janet Corrigan, chief program officer of the Moore Foundation's Patient Care Program, has spent her entire career working to improve our health care system and the care that people receive. She has played critical roles in areas of patient safety, quality improvement, performance measurement, public reporting and value-based payment. In a recent Health Affairs blog post, Dr. Corrigan and her co-authors shine light on a critical challenge facing U.S. health care: delivering care that people with serious illness need and want.

The below excerpts from the post, “Building Additional Serious Illness Measures Into Medicare Programs,” get at the heart of the issue:

“The US health care system is not delivering the care that patients with serious illness need and want. For example, although most people say they would like to die at home, nearly 70 percent die in nursing homes, intensive care units, or other medical settings. Given that approximately 70 percent of people who die in the United States each year are Medicare beneficiaries, the new administration has an opportunity to implement changes to significantly improve the quality of end-of-life care.”

“Seriously ill patients need better care. But that will not happen without new tools for measuring the quality of care these individuals receive and the effects of any interventions. The development and implementation of serious illness quality measures will help policy makers establish which needs of individuals with a serious illness should receive priority as providers focus on delivering care that is of higher quality and value. Better understanding of the patient experience will also ensure that people with an advanced illness are not neglected while the health system continues its transition from the traditional fee-for-service payment system to one that rewards value.”

At the foundation, we are working to improve the experience and outcomes of patient care. One of our current areas of focus is improving care for people with serious illness. These “high-need” patients have conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and are also limited in their ability to perform everyday tasks, which can include bathing, dressing and even walking. And, they are living longer. The last phase of life may last several years, typically with health on an extended decline.

To learn more about the expert panel’s recommendations for measuring the safety and quality of care received by some of the most vulnerable people on Medicare, read more in the Health Affairs blog post.  We also invite you to read about what we at the foundation are learning in building a consumer protection system for care delivered in the community to high-need patients in a Perspective piece from Beth Berselli, program officer for the Patient Care Program .

 

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