Monday, September 21, 2009

The DMAA Forum '09: Volume IV Recommendation on Assessment of Disease Management Outcomes Is Out

If you have been struggling with the topic of how to evaluate your latest population health program, things got a little bit easier today. The Disease Management Care Blog sat in on a DMAA Forum '09 session on the release of Volume IV Recommendations for Measurement of Outcomes. It builds on all the prior Volumes but (and here's the good news) this latest edition will contain all the previous published recommendations and be available without charge for download from the DMAA website.

The DMAA deserves a LOT of credit for making this available gratis. The DMCB thinks the recommendations are not only valuable for assessing disease management, but could be of use for stakeholders interested in the evaluation of other population-based programs, including the patient centered medical home. Sure: a randomized clinical trial is the gold standard for any program evaluation, the fact is that it's not always feasible to do that. Volume IV offers a way out.

The latest release has some other important additions, including:

How to measure and report medication adherence (for example, a minimum to two claims for a specific drug class must be incurred to include a member).

Which baseline to use for long term programs (i.e., those that have been underway for 3 or more years: do you use the first year or the last year?).

A consensus definition of 'Population Health Management' (and a diagram to go with it): 'strives to address health care needs at all points along the continuum of health and well being through the participation of, engagement with, and targeted interventions for the population.'

How to assess the impact of wellness programs (it depends).

The report at the time of this writing is not available on the DMAA web site. The DMCB will keep an eye out for it.

Other noteworthy happenings at the DMAA Forum:

The frightfully bright Mark McClellan MD PhD, former administrator of CMS, gave the day's keynote speech and noted that the considerable consensus over the need for insurance reform means a bill will pass one way or another. He stated that care management - even though it's not viewed favorably by the Congressional Budget Office - has wide bipartisan support. He was very optimistic about the disease management industry's prospects in the coming legislation.

Tracey Moorhead, the President and CEO of DMAA pointed out in her short speech that peer review studies of disease management and its outcomes are critically important going forward. All eyes are on care management, and policy makers as well as legislators will continue to be very interested in knowing more about it. The DMCB agrees: performing rigorous assessments of outcomes and reporting them in the public domain under the scrutiny of peer revew is becoming a cost of doing business for health care in general including disease management organizations including 'carve-ins.' It is our duty and it's good business to understand what works and how much it costs.

Also of note: attendance at the Forum seems high enough to fill meeting rooms, cause crowded escalators and lead to queues at the reception bars. It appears the number of paying attendees is about the same as previous years' meetings but there are also fewer numbers of people manning the display booths.

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