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Christine Cassel on her new role at NQF and why financial managers should care about performance measurement

On Monday, the National Quality Forum announced that Christine Cassel, MD, will become its president and CEO mid-summer 2013 when she leaves her decade-long post as president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the ABIM Foundation. Cassel took a few minutes Monday afternoon to talk to Healthcare Finance News about her upcoming role.

[See also: Christine Cassel to join NQF as president.]

Q: Our readers are largely financial managers, from private physician practices to large healthcare systems. What role can NQF play in the financial manager’s world?

A: One of the approaches to try to improve value in healthcare is to pay people differently, and that includes hospitals and physician groups and individual physicians. One of the approaches to that is directly related to performance measures and how the patients’ care is evaluated by a set of measurement tools. Some of it is linked directly to payment and some of it is sort of built into an accountability framework in these global payment schemes. So I think the finance people are going to be more and more looking at quality performance. You see that in some of the top performing health systems where the finance person learns to understand more about quality of care because it’s directly related to how they fare in terms of their bottom line.

Q: What can you do further NQF’s goals?

A: I hope I can help. I think it’s an organization that is just perfectly positioned to build on what it’s done to help the healthcare community improve quality at a more rapid pace and in a more streamlined way. That can only be done if you have all the players around the table. … I don’t think there’s another place in the healthcare world where that happens – where you have that kind of broad multi-stakeholder input to process what is actually essential to everybody.

Q: What do you plan to do during your tenure at NQF and how long will you stay?

A: My intention is to do what I can there. What I did at ABIM – let me just put it in that context. I was there for 10 years. I think that, together with the leaders on the board and other members of the medical specialty board community, that we were able to really accomplish a lot – to transform what board certification meant and to have it much more aligned with all of these other requirements that doctors are being asked to comply with. Going to NQF is a great opportunity for me. I look forward to being engaged more directly with the broader healthcare community, not just the medical community, although that continues to be an important part of it. That to me is what’s fun about it. Right now I’m not looking at what the limit of time is there. I’m looking at what I can really accomplish with the board.

Q: What experiences as a physician and as ABIM president and CEO will you bring to NQF?

A: I have experience with what kinds of measures are useful in the doctor-patient relationship and in the hospital when the patient is actually receiving care, and how those measures can be clinically meaningful and very helpful to physicians or healthcare teams as they’re trying to improve care. I think that experience will be very relevant to what NQF is doing.

Q: Would you like to add anything?

A: I consider it a great privilege to have this opportunity. I have a steep learning curve since this is all of healthcare now – it’s not just the doctors. I love those kinds of opportunities: When I can talk to smart people throughout the industry and throughout the measurement field and learn more.


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