Panel assesses quality of military health care

Panel assesses quality of military health care

Panel members, appointed by Defense Secretary William Cohen, include physicians, nurses and representatives from service organizations that support the armed forces. More information about the panel's objectives is available on the Internet at . Williamson said the panel plans to visit sites around the country before submitting its initial report to Cohen in March or April 2000.

A new federal advisory committee is evaluating how well the Defense Department is improving the quality of health care it provides some 9 million eligible beneficiaries.

The Healthcare Quality Initiatives Review Panel has met three times since Sept. 21 to review access and quality improvement initiatives begun in early 1998 and to assess how well DoD has done in achieving quality objectives, including:

  • Better education and training programs for physicians and other health care providers.
  • Establishing "centers of excellence" for complicated surgical procedures.
  • Reporting malpractice and adverse credential issues to the National Practitioner Data Bank (a service designed to prevent physicians who lose their license to practice in one state from seeking new credentials in another state).
  • Providing beneficiaries comprehensive information on the quality of health care they receive.
  • Making sure laboratory standards are met.
  • Ensuring the accuracy of patient information.

"We want to visit military treatment facilities and talk to commanders, quality management directors and facility personnel," said Williamson, who serves as an alternate panel member. He said no specific sites have been selected, but the panel would like to visit areas where all three medical service departments have operations. "That doesn't rule out visiting remote locations as well," he said.