By Anne Dabrow-Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN and Dale Schumacher, MD, MPH
When nurses are armed with the latest evidence-based nursing procedures at the point of care and real-time step-by-step guides for clinical decision making at the bedside, Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program scores go up. That was the primary finding of a study undertaken by the Rockburn Institute in partnership with Wolters Kluwer Health, which found that hospitals where nurses used two specific evidence-based Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tools for two years had an average rank that was nearly 25 percent higher than their peers.
The findings are a rare instance where the intervention—in this case Lippincott Procedures and Lippincott Advisor from Wolters Kluwer—can be clearly associated with change in practice and quality improvement. In fact, the study’s findings clearly support the value and use of point-of-care CDS tools in a clinical setting to augment nurses’ substantial knowledge when needed. The results also demonstrate the close relationship between nurse, information, patient and performance improvement, which ultimately leads to improved quality and efficiency.
A VBP Primer
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), through its Hospital VBP Program, has incentivized hospitals to improve patient care and minimize costs by structuring its reimbursement system to reward care quality rather than service quantity. To fund the program, CMS reduces each hospital’s base operating payment by up to 2 percent, which hospitals can earn back (along with bonuses) by achieving high VBP performance scores.
In effect, VBP pits hospitals against each other and their own past performance to show achievement and improvement. Performance is currently assessed using four quality domains: 1) Clinical Care, 2) Experience and Coordination of Care, 3) Safety, and 4) Efficiency and Cost Reduction.
Each participating hospital receives an achievement and improvement score for each domain. The higher of the two is selected and weighted accordingly. All domain scores are then summed together to create the VBP Total Performance Score (TPS). This score is then converted into the hospital’s “adjustment factor,” a multiplier CMS applies to a hospital’s base payment covering each patient’s stay during a given time period.
Adjustment factors above 1.0 indicate that a hospital will receive back from CMS their full withholding plus a bonus. Hospitals with an adjustment factor below 1.0 will be assessed a penalty. For example, a hospital with a VBP adjustment factor of 0.9903 would be paid 99.03% of what Medicare usually reimburses for each service. It’s important to note that the VBP program is a mix of withholding repayment and bonus (or penalty) and required by law to be budget neutral.
The Study Methodology
To determine if and to what extent CDS could help hospitals improve performance on key metrics, the Rockburn Institute evaluated data compiled over a three-year period from all U.S.-based hospitals with a CMS Certification Number that participated in the VBP program. From this base of approximately 3,000 hospitals, 41 facilities were identified that utilized both Lippincott Procedures and Lippincott Advisor for the complete 2014 and 2015 calendar years.
The performance of hospitals using the CDS tools—which represented a mix of community-based clinics, hospitals serving large geographic regions and large university-based systems in 20 different states—was compared to the other hospitals that had received VBP scores for 2014 and 2015. Scores of the 41 CDS facilities were then evaluated for 2017 against their previous years’ results.