Child Health Care Quality Toolbox

Fact Sheet

Measuring Quality in Child Health Care Programs

The Child Health Care Quality Toolbox is an online resource that helps you measure the quality of child health care programs. It also offers tips and tools for evaluating health care service programs for children.

The toolbox now includes mental health measures.

What Is the Toolbox?

The Child Health Care Quality Toolbox is an online resource to help you measure the quality of child health care programs: http://www.ahrq.gov/chtoolbx

It also offers tips and tools for evaluating health care service programs for children.

Who Is the Toolbox Designed For?

This Toolbox was designed for any person or organization that wants to measure health care quality for children and adolescents. State and local policymakers, program directors, and their staff need to be able to tell how well their children's health programs are performing, identify areas that need improvement, and assess the impact of improvement strategies. This online resource can help them in that effort. Health care consumers, advocates, providers, and plans will also find it useful.

How Does It Work?

Users can navigate among major sections and subsections to get information on quality measurement, descriptions of available measures, examples of their use, and application tips. There are also many links to other Web-based resources.

Major Sections of Toolbox

What Can I Learn?

  • Are the children covered by my area's programs receiving quality health care?
  • How can quality measures help me tell whether our child health program is effective?
  • What quality measures apply best to child health and how can I get hold of them?
  • Are there any mental and behavioral health measures I can use?
  • What quality measures are in the development pipeline?
  • Can I modify quality measures to apply to my area? How about developing my own?
  • What measures can I use for children with special health care needs?

What's in the Toolbox?

This Toolbox gives a detailed introduction and links to several measures that can be used in Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Title V, and private child health care programs.

CAHPS®—The Consumer Assessment of Health Plans is widely used to gauge how consumers experience access, communication, and other aspects of health care. The expanded CAHPS® 3.0 Child Survey includes the widely used core questionnaire and a set of questions to identify children with chronic conditions and assess their health care experiences.

AHRQ QIs—The AHRQ Quality Indicators are applied to readily available hospital administrative data to produce screening tools that identify areas of possible concern. Each of three modules—prevention, inpatient, and patient safety—contains pediatric indicators dealing with areas such as pediatric asthma or gastroenteritis admission rates, birth trauma, and pediatric heart surgery mortality.

HEDIS®—The Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set, developed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, includes many measures designed for or applicable to children. HEDIS® groups measures into the categories of effectiveness, access/availability, satisfaction, and use of services.

Title V Maternal and Child Health Programs—This broad set of performance measures relating to public health contains quality measures that are particularly pertinent to health care delivery for children at the State level.

CAHMI—The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative has developed two sets of measures specific to very young children and adolescents:

  • PHDS—The Promoting Healthy Development Survey is a survey of the parents or guardians of children under age four to find out if their children are receiving recommended preventive and developmental health care.
  • YAHCS—In the Young Adult Health Care Survey, adolescents ages 14-18 are surveyed about whether they have received recommended preventive care and their experiences of the care.

New to the Toolbox: Mental Health Measures

The lack of reliable and useful quality measures for mental and behavioral health services has been a problem for State policymakers. The toolbox now includes information about measures that apply to children and adolescents:

The ECHO® (Experience of Healthcare and Outcomes Survey) child version collects consumers' assessments of their behavioral health treatment, including mental health and chemical dependency services.

The National Inventory of Mental Health Quality Measures is a searchable database of over 300 measures for quality assessment and improvement in mental health and substance abuse care.

About AHRQ and ULP

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides evidence-based information on health care outcomes, quality, cost, use, and access. Information from AHRQ's research helps people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of health care services.

AHRQ's User Liaison Program (ULP) disseminates health services research findings in easily understandable and usable formats through interactive workshops and technical assistance for policymakers and other health services research users.

Page last reviewed June 2004
Internet Citation: Child Health Care Quality Toolbox: Fact Sheet. June 2004. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/children/toolbox/index.html