While most hospitals have focused on promoting quality care at their facilities to help decrease costs, quality care will take on a somewhat different meaning under the new healthcare reform law: Hospitals will feel the pressure to maintain continuous quality improvement or risk being penalized under reform incentives scheduled over the next several years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute report titled "Health Reform: Prospering in a Post-Reform World."
According to the report, the new law can be expected to impact hospitals in three main areas:
The message hospitals need to pay attention to is "don't get stuck in the bottom quartile, and work towards continuous quality improvement," according to the report. The bottom quartile will change from year to year as the quality performance of hospitals change. However, at least 1,000 hospitals will end up in the bottom quartile—regardless of the quality provided.
Beginning in 2013, high scoring hospitals under VBP will receive a higher payment of 1%—which rises to 2% in 2017 and beyond. In addition to the direct financial impact, the reform law will require that an organization's quality metrics be publicly available and accessible.
In addition to the direct financial impact, hospitals also could feel the impact of consumerism. For years, healthcare has lagged behind in making information easily accessible to consumers, but this has been changing.