[Points of view: the role of quality measurement from the Federal Joint Committee's perspective].Z Evid Fortbild Qual Gesundhwes. 2014; 108(8-9):456-64.ZE
The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) is a central decision-making body that issues binding directives to ensure the quality of both inpatient and outpatient health care services within the German Statutory Health Insurance system. Quality measurement on the basis of quality indicators has proceeded furthest in the field of external quality assurance (QA) of inpatient services. Originally designed for quality development in a "protected environment" through learning from better practices, it has been faced with new expectations since competitive elements have been introduced into the health care system. The economisation of medicine is de facto the driving force of the development of QA measures. In terms of health policy, the 2013 coalition agreement includes "a renaissance of the concept of quality competition". In particular, this is meant to strengthen the decision-making options of insured persons by creating more transparency into the quality of not only inpatient but also outpatient care and, if necessary, to support the possibility of selective agreements with individual health insurance funds. The campaign planned to improve the quality of hospitals also provides for a quality-oriented advancement of hospital planning and funding; and the Federal Joint Committee, supported by the new Institute for Quality Assurance and Transparency in the Healthcare System in accordance with Section 137a of Book V of the Social Code (SGB V) in the GKV-FQWG version will be assigned new tasks within this context, too. On the whole, the measures already agreed upon in the Act to Improve the Financial Structure and Quality of the Statutory Health Insurance System (GKV-FQWG) and—as far as can now be anticipated—the proceedings of the working group set up between the German government and the German federal states indicate that there is a high need to improve the methods and tools of external quality assurance available, starting with questions about the validity of the quality indicators used and their relevance to patient care. Special issues and tasks require the development of new methods and tools. The need for paying more attention to the patient perspective will pose a particular challenge to future quality measurement. Additional information about the QA documentation of health care providers and the basis of social data that should be used preferentially can be gained from patient surveys. Despite the high political expectations (for example, concerning the development of online charts comparing the quality of inpatient care delivery), the Federal Joint Committee should not overlook the necessity of embedding quality measurement and public reporting into a comprehensive quality framework which can be used to promote continuous quality improvement through a structured feedback of the results to health care providers. In addition, we need a consistent patient orientation and a systematic evaluation of the QA measures employed. By networking more closely with evidence-based medicine and health services research, quality assurance may give rise to a systematic quality research from which genuine quality and care objectives can be derived and which, as an integral part of a "learning care", supports a patient-oriented advancement of care structures.