National Partnership for Women & Families

Women's Health Leader Says New "Patient Charter" is Critical Building Block in Drive to Improve Quality of Care

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — April 1, 2008 —
Today’s announcement that leading consumer and employer groups have forged an agreement with physician organizations and health insurers on principles to guide measurement and reporting on physician performance is a significant step toward improving the quality of care for patients in this country, according to one of the nation’s leading consumer health advocates, National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. 

Unveiled today, the new “Patient Charter for Physician Performance Measurement, Reporting and Tiering Programs” is a set of principles that will guide health plans in measuring doctors’ performance and reporting the information to consumers.  Ness hailed it as a way to promote better decision making and more patient-centered care.  “This is a critical building block in the effort to improve the quality of health care in this country,” she said.  “Right now in the United States, patients have no more than a 50/50 chance of getting the right care at the right time for the right reason.  Poor care takes a terrible toll in lives diminished or lost and health dollars wasted.  It disproportionately affects women and people of color, and diverts precious resources from imperatives like providing health insurance coverage for all people.  The agreement reached today can begin to change that by putting patients first and giving them the tools they need to make the best possible choices about their medical care.” 

“For too long, health plans and doctors have been at odds and patients have suffered as a result,” Ness continued.  “Today, it is easier to find information about a dishwasher you want to buy than a doctor who may hold your life in her/his hands.  Consumers need meaningful information about quality and cost so they can make informed choices and sound decisions about where they get their care and how they spend their health care dollars.  The new ‘Patient Charter’ calls for complete transparency, measurement based on sound science, input from consumers to ensure that the information reported is useful to them, and input from doctors to ensure fairness.”
 
In addition to the National Partnership, the new “Patient Charter” was endorsed by AARP, AFL-CIO, Leapfrog Group, National Business Coalition on Health, and Pacific Business Group on Health, with support from the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, American College of Cardiology, and American College of Surgeons.  Insurers who have agreed to adopt the “Patient Charter” include Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Wellpoint and America’s Health Insurance Plans.

“Patients win if this ‘Charter’ is implemented broadly,” Ness concluded.  “We thank all parties for coming to the table and joining us in the hard work needed to reach this agreement.  Now it’s time to put it into practice.  This is a critical piece of the health care reform our nation urgently needs.”

Where it is followed, the “Patient Charter” is designed to ensure that: 

  • Consumers can make more informed decisions based on both quality and cost, with adequate guidance about how to use the information;
  • Both consumers and physicians have input into the measurement process and how results are reported.  This will help ensure that information is trusted by physicians and meaningful to consumers;
  • Measurement is based on sound national standards and methodology.
  • Measurement is a transparent process so that both consumers and physicians can understand the basis upon which performance is being measured and reported;
  • Physicians have adequate notice and opportunity to correct any errors.  There will be no surprises and no black boxes; and
  • Physicians will have information that helps them improve the quality of care they provide.

The agreement was spearheaded by the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project (http://healthcaredisclosure.org/), a group of leading consumer, labor and employer organizations that works to ensure that all Americans have access to publicly reported health care performance information.  It is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Contact

Cindy Romero (202) 986-2600 cromero@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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