Automated quality measures can be used to improve asthma care

Research Activities, December 2012, No. 388

Ask those engaged in health care quality improvement activity and they will tell you it is a labor-intensive, costly process consisting of manual chart review. With electronic medical records (EMRs) now available, there is the potential to streamline the process, provided that quality measures can be adequately automated. A new study looks at this challenge by assessing how such automated measures can improve asthma care. It finds that these measures performed well in a health maintenance organization (HMO).

The study used outpatient asthma care data from two locations: a midsized HMO and a group of federally qualified health centers. Patients were 12 years of age or older with persistent asthma. Using updated guidelines and other information, the researchers developed 22 asthma care quality measures. These were then incorporated into a health information technology platform. The accuracy of the automated quality measures averaged 88 percent in the HMO environment following a chart review validation process. They were less accurate in the health centers, with a rate of 80 percent. The researchers found that nearly 70 percent of the measures were either enhanced by or required processing of the providers' clinical text notes. Only 6 of the 22 measures could be addressed with administrative data alone, suggesting that administrative data alone is insufficient to assess compliance with current asthma care guidelines. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17022).

See "Automating care quality measurement with health information technology," by Brian Hazlehurst, Ph.D., Mary Ann McBurnie, Ph.D., Richard A. Mularski, M.D., M.S.H.S., M.C.R., and others in the American Journal of Managed Care 18(6), pp. 313-319, 2012.

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Current as of December 2012
Internet Citation: Automated quality measures can be used to improve asthma care: Research Activities, December 2012, No. 388. December 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/12dec/1212RA12.html