CMS moves to improve Medicare quality of care

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has tapped two contractors to oversee a top program aimed at improving the quality of care for Medicare recipients.
The agency said Friday it has hired Maryland-based Livanta and Ohio-based KePRO to oversee its Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) program. 
The program enlists private companies to review medical care, improve services and help Medicare beneficiaries with complaints. It is intended to keep down costs, while providing a national network of providers who can improve healthcare services.
The CMS said in a statement that its move highlighted a commitment “to restructure the QIO Program to gain efficiencies, to eliminate any perceived conflicts of interest, and to better address the needs of Medicare beneficiaries.”
A 2006 report by the Institute of Medicine called for a “major restructuring” of the program, finding mismanaged resources and potential conflicts of interest with health care providers.
“One of the most critical roles of CMS is to protect the quality and safety of care delivered to beneficiaries,” said deputy administrator for innovation and quality and CMS chief medical officer Dr. Patrick Conway. “Care needs to be patient-centered and directly engage patients, families, and caregivers.”
According to the agency the contractors will review reports from QIO participants on the standard of care being delivered to Medicare beneficiaries.
The second phase of the QIO overhaul is expected to begin in July when the CMS will award contracts to companies to work directly with providers and communities to improve care.