Large employers have become increasingly involved in helping to set the agenda for quality measurement and improvement. Moreover, they are beginning to hold health care organizations accountable for their performance through marketplace incentives, including the public reporting of comparative quality data and the linkage of reimbursement to performance on quality measures. The Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) is an employer coalition that has been prominent in establishing models for collaborative quality measurement and improvement in the California marketplace.

PBGH's involvement in quality stems from an environment in which purchasers were faced with high health care costs, yet virtually no information with which to assess the value their employees received from that care. Research indicating widespread variation in performance across health care organizations and seemingly limited oversight for quality of care within the industry has further motivated purchasers' efforts to better understand the quality of care being delivered to their em-ployees.

Using the purchasing power of employers representing 2.5-million covered lives, PBGH endeavors to encourage the transition of the health care marketplace from one that competes solely on price to one that competes on price and quality. This entails collaborating with the health care industry to develop and publicly report valid performance data for use by both large employers and consumers of health care services. It also includes communicating to the marketplace purchasers' commitment to making purchasing decisions based on quality as well as cost. PBGH efforts to measure, report, and improve quality have been demonstrated by several undertakings in the perinatal care arena, including research to assess cesarean section rates and newborn readmission rates across California hospitals. employer coalition, purchaser, quality measurement, quality improvement, report cards, perinatal quality of care.

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