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January 4, 1999

Council urges state to create report cards for health-care institutions

New York State must move aggressively to adopt a health-care quality-measurement program that includes regular public report cards on hospitals and other health-care institutions, according to The Business Council's specialist in health-care issues.

"Employers pay dearly for their employees' health-care benefit programs. Both these employers and individual consumers who buy their own insurance need and deserve detailed information on the expertise and quality records of health-care institutions in order to make informed choices," Shaw said.

"Access to this information is especially important because New York deregulated its health-care system in 1996," he added. "New York made the right decision to let market forces determine the costs and availability of health-care services. This will work best if consumers in the market have access to good information about those services."

For example, information on health-care institutions' background in a certain medical speciality or experience with a specific procedure would help both businesses and consumers make better decisions about what health-care plans to buy.

A state-mandated, privately administered report-card system in Pennsylvania is the model New York should follow, Shaw said.

New York should also consider a system like one in Massachusetts that provides physician profiles on the World-Wide Web. That system provides information on individuals physicians, including their academic background, certification and medical specialization.

Shaw will elaborate on these arguments in a panel discussion on "Health Care Quality: The Future in New York" at 11:15 a.m. The session is part of a one-day conference entitled Health Care Quality: The New Frontier," which will take place McGraw Hill, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, in Manhattan.

Shaw's session will be moderated by James R. Tallon, Jr., president of the United Hospital Fund. Other participants in that session are: Geri Barish, president of 1 in 9: The Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition; Richard N. Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee; Michael P. Gutnick, senior vice president of finance for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Kemp Hannon, chair of the Senate Health Committee; and Susan Rosenfeld, president of Health Care Choices.

The keynote address at the conference will be delivered by Paul Ellwood, president of Jackson Hole Group and InterStudy and a nationally recognized expert on health-care quality. His address is entitled "Give Me Quality or Give Me Death."

The conference is being organized by The Business Council as well as Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Health Care Choices, Inc., and the New York State conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. It is being sponsored by Eli Lilly & Company and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.