Assessing Beneficiary Health Outcomes and Disease Management Initiatives in Medicare
Samuel C. Haffer
Sonya E. Bowen
Erin Dowd Shannon
Brenda M. Fowler
Introduction: Provisions in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 directed the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, formerly the Health Care Financing Administration) to begin focusing attention on the standardized measurement of health outcomes of Medicare beneficiaries as well as testing the effectiveness of various disease management interventions at improving these outcomes. The CMS, in collaboration with the US National Committee for Quality Assurance, developed the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey (HOS) as the first health outcomes measure from the patient's perspective in Medicare managed care. This new source of data, using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36-Item Health survey (SF-36(R)) as its core measure, provides valuable standardized health outcomes information about Medicare managed care enrollees in general and the chronically ill in particular. Study design: From May through July 1998, a longitudinal, self-administered survey which utilized the SF-36(R) (a health status measure which assesses both physical and mental functioning) was administered to 1000 randomly sampled Medicare beneficiaries who were continuously enrolled for a 6-month period in a Medicare managed care health plan. This cohort was re-surveyed from April though June of 2000. We analyzed data from the cohort I baseline and re-measurement analytic sample of 51 700 individuals. Results: Using the change in SF-36(R) physical component summary scores and mental component summary scores over a 2-year period, we demonstrated that the presence of chronic disease has a negative impact on both the physical and mental health functioning of Medicare managed care enrollees over time. With few exceptions, the negative effect of chronic disease on physical and mental health is found to be independent of gender, race, and socioeconomic status as measured by level of educational attainment. Differences in mean health status scores across levels of chronic conditions suggest that preventing the onset of disease is best for maintaining optimal health. Conclusions: Disease management interventions which are properly designed and implemented have been shown to measurably improve patient outcomes by providing high quality, cost-effective care. Recognizing the need for standardized outcome measures and scientifically validated disease management interventions, the CMS has taken a leadership role by developing and implementing the Medicare HOS and disease management demonstration projects.
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