"That is why a provider that wants to take advantage of the nationwide, uniform Federal confidentiality and privilege protections of the Patient Safety Act, and to participate in the health exchanges, needs to contract with a federal PSO that is listed on the AHRQ PSO Web site," Munier wrote.
To qualify, he says, organizations must "have as their primary activity the conduct of activities to improve healthcare delivery, have qualified staff to aggregate and analyze the confidential data reported by providers, and they have the ability to maintain confidentiality and security of the data reported."
Munier says he has confidence that that those on the list of AHRQ-approved PSOs "have significant capacity" to expand to meet the needs of the large numbers of hospitals hoping to contract with health plans for health exchange offerings.
"The time-consuming element of contracting with a PSO will be a hospital's search for a PSO that represents the best 'fit' for its specific patient safety needs."
He explained that "in anticipation of the [PP]ACA requirement" AHRQ is working to identify additional information that will "assist hospitals narrow their search."
And, he added, "hospitals will not always need to start from square one. In some cases, hospitals can work with one of the more than a dozen PSOs that are either sponsored directly by their state or regional hospital association or jointly sponsored by professional organizations, including hospital associations.
"In other cases, a hospital may be able to look no further than its liability insurer as ore of these firms are sponsoring component PSOs to serve the needs of the facilities they insure."
Foster, however, questions why a hospital that already works with a state organization, such as the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, would have to also work with another organization. "Wouldn't that be wasteful?" she asks.