Guest post from Anthony L. Asher, MD
Co-Medical Director, Carolinas Healthcare System Neuroscience Institute
Director, National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database
Vice President, AANS/CNS NeuroPoint Alliance
Patients want the best outcomes; physicians want to provide optimal care. This may seem obvious; thus the assumption that it should be easy to accomplish. Over the last decade, there has been a significant push to raise the bar of patient safety and quality outcomes. There are at least two significant hurdles in obtaining this superlative, especially within subspecialties such as neurosurgery:
- Optimal outcomes for many complex interventions remain poorly defined, at least from the perspective of all healthcare stakeholders (i.e., physicians, patients and payers)
- Methods to continuously measure, promote and report healthcare safety and quality are underdeveloped
Neurosurgery has a long tradition of dedication to patient safety and providing high quality care. A major advance in this realm has recently been realized. The National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD), the NeuroPoint Alliance’s (NPA) clinical registry focused on spine and neurosurgical outcomes, has received the final acceptance required from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to officially identify it as a Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) for 2015 and allow it to satisfy Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) reporting requirements.
This is tremendously important. For the first time, neurosurgeons will have a set of specialty-specific measures for use in public quality reporting programs that will be meaningful for neurosurgeons, their patients and other stakeholders.
The impact of creating robust specialty-specific registry formats goes well beyond facilitating public reporting. Analyses of data collected through the N2QOD have already helped demonstrate the effectiveness of neurosurgical care and identify important care improvement opportunities. With the added incentive of using our registry to fulfill PQRS requirements, the volume of collected data should grow exponentially, thereby advancing the science of neurosurgical quality improvement.
Here’s the important take home message: this leap forward for NPA, and N2QOD gives individual neurosurgeons, and neurosurgery as a specialty, the capacity to expand our long-standing commitment to highest quality, patient-centered, care for our patients.