Asta Sorensen, Nikki Jarrett, Elizabeth Tant, Shulamit Bernard, and Nancy McCall
Background: Prior to the implementation of the Hospital-Acquired Condition-Present on Admission (HAC-POA) payment policy, concerns regarding its potential impact were raised by a number of organizations and individuals. The purpose of this study was to explore direct and indirect effects of the HAC-POA payment policy on hospitals, patients, and other payers during the policy’s first 3 years of implementation. Methods: The study included semi-structured telephone interviews with representatives of national organizations, hospitals, patient advocacy organizations, and other payers. Interview notes were coded using QSR NVivo qualitative analysis software using inductive and deductive qualitative analysis techniques.
We conducted interviews with 106 individuals representing 56 organizations. Hospital staff included physicians, nurses, patient safety officers, coders, and finance, senior
management, and information management staff. Individuals from other organizations represented leadership positions. Results: Key changes to hospitals included:
cultural shifts involving attention, commitment, and support from hospital leadership for patient safety; hiring new staff to assure the accuracy of clinical documentation and POA oversight structures; increased time burden for physicians, nurses, and coders; need to upgrade or purchase new software; and need to collaborate with hospital departments or staff that did not interface directly in the past. The policy was adopted by a majority of other payers, although the list of conditions and payment penalties varies. The HAC-POA policy is invisible to patients; therefore, the presence or lack
of unintended consequences to patients cannot be fully assessed at this time. Understanding of policy effects to all stakeholders is important for maximizing its successful implementation and desired impact.
Keywords: qualitative research, Medicare, hospitals, health policy, politics, law, regulation, evaluation design and research