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Improving Quality of Care

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Improving access to affordable, high-quality care has long been one of NORC’s top priorities. We have designed, implemented, and evaluated a wide range of approaches to payment delivery and system reform, with the goal of making health care more equitable.

Kristina Hanson Lowell, VP & Senior Fellow
Health Care

Curbing the Unnecessary Use of Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics
Every year, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States—the result of widespread, inappropriate use of antibiotics. The Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP) for Antibiotic Stewardship helps clinical teams combat the over-prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics in hospitals and other care settings by combining improved teamwork, clinical best practices, and the science of safety.

NORC has been working with Johns Hopkins Medicine since 2016 to help the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality implement and evaluate its CUSP-based antibiotic stewardship efforts.

Our evaluation of the acute care hospitals cohort found a noticeable decline in the over-prescription of antibiotics. We just completed implementation and data collection for the long-term care facilities cohort and are underway with the ambulatory care practices cohort. NORC led the recruitment, implementation, and evaluation efforts for all three care settings.

Informing Patient Choice
For almost a decade, we have supported the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Quality Initiatives to continuously improve its Hospital Compare website. Hospital Compare offers information in plain language on 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals, as well as Veterans Administration medical centers and Department of Defense Military Health System hospitals. It enables users to find and compare hospitals, and encourages hospitals to improve the quality of care they provide. We have also helped align information among CMS’s Compare websites: Dialysis Facility Compare, Home Health Compare, Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare, Physician Compare, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Compare, and Long-Term Care Hospital Compare.

Tackling Health Care Inequalities
Minority populations experience worse health, lower quality of care, and more barriers to accessing care, problems that cost billions of dollars in direct medical care expenditures each year. We worked with CMS’s Office of Minority Health (OMH) to develop the first-ever plan for promoting health equity in Medicare. The plan aims to improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, and rural populations. We help CMS OMH identify specific health disparities among these groups, then develop and disseminate strategies for reducing them.