Ethical Performance Measuring

The American Medical Association's Ethical Force Program has been tasked with measuring health care performance in ethics through creating and testing performance measurement tools.

The Ethical Force Program is designed to help develop mutual and multilateral accountability in ethics among all participants in the health care delivery system. Taxed with creating, testing and disseminating performance measures for different areas of expertise in regards to ethics in health care, the Ethical Force Program is driven by representatives from a variety of health care-related professions, including patients, practitioners, health plans, purchasers, and government and accrediting organizations.

Built upon the foundation of measuring quality of care delivery based on patient outcomes and satisfaction, the Ethical Force Program is striving to expand this performance measurement process to encompass ethical measures as well in order to better measure and support a well-rounded patient experience.

How It Works

The Ethical Force Program plans to monitor and evaluate ethical standards through the use of Ethics Performance Measurement Toolkits that will include questionnaires that can be inserted into any physician, consumer or patient survey. Grading instructions, review criteria, a recommended reporting format and sample policies and protocols will be included as appropriate as well, allowing these surveys to be used as both a self-assessment tool or for public reporting. The survey is designed to meet the needs of any health care organization or practitioner that is interested in participating — from providers to payer organizations.

Eventually, a range of ethical domains will be covered in the performance measurement process; however, the first two selected domains are privacy and confidentiality, and processes for designing health benefits and adjudicating coverage decisions.

Although there is no gold standard for ethical issues, the Ethical Force Program is basing its evaluation process on determining three factors:

  • whether baseline expectations have been met,
  • whether progress is being made toward aspirational goals, and
  • whether acceptable processes are being used to ensure that difficult issues are appropriately addressed.

The Ethical Force Program has no plans to offer any sort of seal of approval or accredition, but instead provides the means needed to allow organizations to conduct self-assesments and improve upon practices. Currently, two toolkits are available:

Improving Communication, Improving Care addresses your organization's abilities to communicate with a diverse patient base.

Patient Privacy and Confidentiality helps an organization evaluate whether its culture, policies and procedures support patient privacy.

Resources are also available regarding making fair coverage decisions and providing fair access to care.

For more information about the Ethical Force Program or to request materials, contact the program staff at the Institute for Ethics at (312) 464-5260.

MD News August 2010



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