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      Effect of the transformation of the Veterans Affairs Health Care System on the quality of care.

      The New England journal of medicine

      Fee-for-Service Plans, standards, Hospitals, Veterans, organization & administration, trends, Medicare, Organizational Innovation, Process Assessment (Health Care), Quality Indicators, Health Care, Quality of Health Care, United States, United States Department of Veterans Affairs

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          Abstract

          In the mid-1990s, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system initiated a systemwide reengineering to, among other things, improve its quality of care. We sought to determine the subsequent change in the quality of health care and to compare the quality with that of the Medicare fee-for-service program. Using data from an ongoing performance-evaluation program in the VA, we evaluated the quality of preventive, acute, and chronic care. We assessed the change in quality-of-care indicators from 1994 (before reengineering) through 2000 and compared the quality of care with that afforded by the Medicare fee-for-service system, using the same indicators of quality. In fiscal year 2000, throughout the VA system, the percentage of patients receiving appropriate care was 90 percent or greater for 9 of 17 quality-of-care indicators and exceeded 70 percent for 13 of 17 indicators. There were statistically significant improvements in quality from 1994-1995 through 2000 for all nine indicators that were collected in all years. As compared with the Medicare fee-for-service program, the VA performed significantly better on all 11 similar quality indicators for the period from 1997 through 1999. In 2000, the VA outperformed Medicare on 12 of 13 indicators. The quality of care in the VA health care system substantially improved after the implementation of a systemwide reengineering and, during the period from 1997 through 2000, was significantly better than that in the Medicare fee-for-service program. These data suggest that the quality-improvement initiatives adopted by the VA in the mid-1990s were effective. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Most cited references 18

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          Inadequate management of blood pressure in a hypertensive population.

          Many patients with hypertension have inadequate control of their blood pressure. Improving the treatment of hypertension requires an understanding of the ways in which physicians manage this condition and a means of assessing the efficacy of this care. We examined the care of 800 hypertensive men at five Department of Veterans Affairs sites in New England over a two-year period. Their mean (+/-SD) age was 65.5+/-9.1 years, and the average duration of hypertension was 12.6+/-5.3 years. We used recursive partitioning to assess the probability that antihypertensive therapy would be increased at a given clinic visit using several variables. We then used these predictions to define the intensity of treatment for each patient during the study period, and we examined the associations between the intensity of treatment and the degree of control of blood pressure. Approximately 40 percent of the patients had a blood pressure of > or =160/90 mm Hg despite an average of more than six hypertension-related visits per year. Increases in therapy occurred during 6.7 percent of visits. Characteristics associated with an increase in antihypertensive therapy included increased levels of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure at that visit (but not previous visits), a previous change in therapy, the presence of coronary artery disease, and a scheduled visit. Patients who had more intensive therapy had significantly (P<0.01) better control of blood pressure. During the two-year period, systolic blood pressure declined by 6.3 mm Hg among patients with the most intensive treatment, but increased by 4.8 mm Hg among the patients with the least intensive treatment. In a selected population of older men, blood pressure was poorly controlled in many. Those who received more intensive medical therapy had better control. Many physicians are not aggressive enough in their approach to hypertension.
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            Inequality in Quality

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              Racial disparities in the quality of care for enrollees in medicare managed care.

              Substantial racial disparities in the use of some health services exist; however, much less is known about racial disparities in the quality of care. To assess racial disparities in the quality of care for enrollees in Medicare managed care health plans. Observational study, using the 1998 Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS), which summarized performance in calendar year 1997 for 4 measures of quality of care (breast cancer screening, eye examinations for patients with diabetes, beta-blocker use after myocardial infarction, and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness). A total of 305 574 (7.7%) beneficiaries who were enrolled in Medicare managed care health plans had data for at least 1 of the 4 HEDIS measures and were aged 65 years or older. Rates of breast cancer screening, eye examinations for patients with diabetes, beta-blocker use after myocardial infarction, and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness. Blacks were less likely than whites to receive breast cancer screening (62.9% vs 70.9%; P<.001), eye examinations for patients with diabetes (43.6% vs 50.4%; P =.02), beta-blocker medication after myocardial infarction (64.1% vs 73.8%; P<.005), and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness (33.2 vs 54.0%; P<.001). After adjustment for potential confounding factors, racial disparities were still statistically significant for eye examinations for patients with diabetes, beta-blocker use after myocardial infarction, and follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness. Among Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in managed care health plans, blacks received poorer quality of care than whites.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                12773650
                10.1056/NEJMsa021899

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