Even though the percentage of Americans living with diabetes has nearly doubled from 4.5% of the population in 1995 to 8.2% in 2010, several studies show a decline in rates of diabetes-related deaths and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Improvement has come in part through national agreement around standards for diabetes care; the National Quality Forum plays an important role in determining the measures used to monitor those standards and the quality of care. Measures play a role in assuring that patients with diabetes receive regular blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring, eye exams, and kidney disease screening, all of which can reduce risk of complications such as stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of limbs.
But many NQF measures were endorsed more than a decade ago, and since then, medical knowledge and treatment options have evolved. To keep pace, NQF has launched the Endocrine Measure Endorsement/Maintenance project to further improve NQF’s performance measures for diabetes and other endocrine-based conditions, including osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and metabolic syndrome. To help with the task, NQF has named one of its founding members, Janet (Jessie) Sullivan, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Hudson Health Plan (Hudson), to the project’s Endocrine Steering Committee.
“I am honored to serve on a steering committee that will review measures for conditions that have such a big impact on so many people’s lives,” Dr. Sullivan says. Speaking about the importance of measuring physician performance, Dr. Sullivan explains, “Physicians know how to treat these conditions, and want to deliver excellent care to all their patients. Measurement helps doctors to do so. Just as it would be hard to maintain the speed limit without a speedometer, without measures it is hard to know if the care you are providing is meeting the standards. Quality measures allow practices to track that appropriate care is delivered on time, and to identify patients who are falling behind. Then doctors and nurses can take steps to improve care for all their patients.”
A Strong Provider Advocate
As a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Sullivan understands the challenges health care professionals face in managing diabetes, which depends on patients being fully engaged in making more healthful choices. Diabetes disproportionally affects low-income populations with limited access to the fresh and healthy foods they should eat to control the disease. That’s the case with many Hudson members enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care. Dr. Sullivan recognized that quality measures based on a large practice population might not reveal the incremental success made by physicians serving Hudson members. In response, she developed a patient-centered approach that rewarded health care professionals for each Hudson diabetes patient who showed improvement, rather than basing incentives on a practice-wide metric.
“Jessie views performance measures as a lens that helps physicians focus on the quality of their care,” explains Georganne Chapin, President and CEO of Hudson Health Plan. “She is passionate in partnering with health care professionals to measure and improve patient care. Her experience in addressing disparities in the care of vulnerable populations, where diabetes has reached almost epidemic proportions, will be invaluable to the work of the Endocrine Steering Committee.”
Dr. Sullivan has championed quality improvement both locally and nationally. In 2006, she received the Westchester County Board of Health Distinguished Public Health Service Award for developing “Supporting Excellence,” a Hudson program that works with physicians and members to ensure excellent care. Dr. Sullivan also served as a founding member and chair of the New York Diabetes Coalition, and as co-investigator of “Addressing Disparities in Diabetes Care with Pay-for-Performance Programs,” a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She has served on numerous quality measure workgroups sponsored by leading health care groups, including NQF, the American Medical Association, National Coalition of Quality Assurance, Center for Health Care Strategies, National Transitions of Care Coalition, American Academy of Dermatology, and the New York Quality Alliance.
A resident of New Rochelle, NY, Dr. Sullivan received her MD cum laude from Ohio State University College of Medicine, and her BA from Antioch College. She is a member of the New York Academy of Medicine; Westchester County Medical Society; Medical Society of the State of New York; and American Academy of Dermatology.