In the news: Doctor’s data tracking yields results
(September 2010) Many doctors were skeptical when Yale Medical Group cardiologist Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, began doing clinical outcomes research two decades ago. They were concerned that his work would simply show that some doctors and hospitals were better than others.
But a story in the September 27 issue of Forbes magazine called “The Most Powerful Doctor You Never Heard Of” shows otherwise.
Krumholz’s strategy is to ask the right question and pick the right measurement—and it can get the right answer. His work has resulted in important progress including:
- In 2004, his team showed that only one-third of American hospitals were treating heart attack patients quickly enough. Federally funded research later identified key strategies for achieving more timely care that was disseminated nationally, resulting in better performance by hospitals.
- Research on measuring quality laid the groundwork for the system the Medicare program now uses to compare hospitals. This information is posted by Medicare on their public website.
- Another line of research proved that heart-failure patients end up back in the hospital almost as soon as they leave. This result led to a provision in President Obama's health reform law that will allow Medicare to dock hospitals' pay starting in 2012 if their revolving door is moving too fast.
- The new law also creates a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to extend the type of work Krumholz does.
“Every day millions of patients are being treated, and the lessons from their experiences are lost because there is no systematic effort to learn from them,” says Krumholz in the article. “If I'm sitting down with a patient, I should be able to take advantage of everything we have learned up until yesterday to treat him.”