President and Chief Executive Officer, The Leapfrog Group
Why is Leapfrog launching the ASC Survey?
Since a group of large companies launched Leapfrog in 2000, hundreds of employers across the country have come to rely on us for payment strategies and for information they can give to employees to select the right place for care. Traditionally, we focused only on inpatient care at hospitals, but over the years, employers put pressure on us to do more, pointing out that most of their surgery claims are coming from either outpatient hospital units or ASCs. So, they asked Leapfrog to start reporting on outpatient and ambulatory surgery quality and safety. We launched this on April 1 this year.
How will the information you collect be used?
In 2019, data collected by Leapfrog from ASCs, and similar information collected from hospital outpatient departments, will be aggregated in a national report as well as made available through benchmarking reports to individual facilities that complete the surveys. The data will not be publicly reported by facility until next year’s survey.
The Leapfrog ASC Survey is free and voluntary and asks about the safety and quality of ambulatory and outpatient procedures. This includes basic facility information; medical, surgical and clinical staff; volume and safety of procedures; patient safety practices; and patient experience. Alongside the ASC survey, Leapfrog launched a new section of the Leapfrog Hospital Survey for Outpatient Procedures that mirrors what is asked of ASCs.
Beginning with the 2020 survey, ASC and hospital outpatient department results will be publicly reported by facility and eventually used in value-based purchasing programs. Leapfrog data is incorporated into an extensive network of national and regional health plans. Our ratings are made available to the public, and individual employers use Leapfrog data for their own public reporting, as well as value-based purchasing strategies like network tiering, identification of centers of excellence, and contracting incentives and penalties.
What value does the Leapfrog ASC Survey bring to ASC administrators?
By participating in the Leapfrog ASC Survey, ASC administrators can get in front of consumers, employers and plans with independently verified information on their safety and quality. They can also benchmark their performance against other ASCs and hospital outpatient departments. This is really a long-overdue opportunity for ASCs as an industry to show their competitiveness.
I would encourage ASCs to complete the ASC survey this year to get familiar with the questions and submit feedback before the results will be publicly reported in 2020. We will also give them early benchmarking insights. We have found that ASCs and hospitals can use the survey as a checklist on best practices. ASCs that don’t have time to dig up protocols and evidence from the latest studies will find the survey to be a helpful shortcut for at least some of that.
Like all of Leapfrog’s programs, the ASC survey’s measures are evidence-based and grounded in the latest science, developed with guidance from Leapfrog’s national Expert Panel and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
How much time and money does it take to complete the Leapfrog ASC Survey?
In terms of time spent, many ASCs who have submitted a survey so far this year reported it taking them 4–5 hours. It may look more time-consuming at first glance, but ASCs report only on what is applicable to them, so most will skip a lot of sections. For instance, if you do not perform orthopedic procedures, you will skip questions on those procedures.
In terms of money, there will never be any charge for completing the ASC survey nor have we ever charged hospitals for completing the Leapfrog Hospital Survey. Leapfrog is also not a consultant or broker indirectly seeking revenues from the facilities that complete the surveys. We are a nonprofit with a mission of improving the competitiveness of the US healthcare marketplace through transparency, so consumers get higher quality, safer care at a competitive price, and employers and payers have better information to make good purchasing decisions.
You have been quoted in some of the healthcare press complaining that Americans know virtually nothing about the quality and safety of ASCs. Is that a criticism of the ASC industry?
To date, I haven’t seen any evidence that ASCs are trying to hide from public reporting. On the contrary, through my tours of ASCs across the country and meetings with ASCA leaders and other industry officials, I’ve been very impressed with the openness and determination to hold themselves to the highest standards. ASCs seem to welcome the opportunity to compete in an open marketplace, and their leaders have taken steps on their own to develop excellent quality measures and standards. Policymakers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are far behind the industry on this.
Leapfrog has always been the country’s most outspoken and persistent proponent of healthcare transparency, and we don’t pull punches. What I’m finding is that ASCs are up for the challenge, and it’s encouraging to see.
ASCs interested in submitting a survey will need to complete a Security Code Request Form available on Leapfrog’s website. The submission deadline is June 30, but late submissions will be accepted through November 30, 2019.