What Health Care Quality Measures Will You Report?

Once you have decided whose quality to report, you will need to determine which aspects of their performance to measure (e.g., clinical quality, patient experience, patient safety, cost). There are many different kinds of measures, but not all are appropriate or useful for consumer reporting. If you are developing a report for consumers, consider the following factors when weighing your options.

Suitability for Health Care Consumers

Are the measures designed to meet the information needs of consumers? Although there are thousands of different measures of quality, most of them are designed to meet the needs of health care organizations, which use detailed indicators to pinpoint and fix specific problems with the care they deliver. Such measures are usually too specific and clinical to be helpful to consumers, although some can be adapted and “translated” for consumer use.

Relevance to Your Audience

Is the measure relevant to your intended audience and its needs for health care services and information? Consider whether the measures will provide your audience with information that is useful to them. For instance, an audience composed of the parents of young children will have very different interests than an audience composed of older people with Medicare coverage. The younger cohort may be concerned about prenatal care, obstetric outcomes, and childhood immunization rates, while the elderly may pay more attention to access to specialty care, care for chronic diseases, and heart surgery outcomes.

Consistency With Key Messages

Does the measure support the message you wish to convey to your audience? Try to avoid measures that could actually undermine the message. For example, let’s say you are hoping to communicate the ideas that quality matters and that quality varies. If you pick a quality indicator that has little relevance to your audience or does not actually vary much across plans or providers, your message loses credibility.

On the other hand, a measure that reinforces your message can be very powerful. For instance, a display of hospital scores that all surpass a national benchmark lends strong support to the message that all of the providers in a health plan’s network meet high standards for quality.

Range of Measures

Will your report cover a broad or narrow range of measures? Some reports provide only one kind of data, such as clinical process measures, while others also include patient experience surveys, outcome measures, or descriptive information on the facility.

In additions, some reports present measures only for a specific condition or procedure. For example, the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council has published several public reports that each focus on a particular kind of health problem. It is more common for a report to cover a number of health conditions, or a number of different kind of measures. For example, CalHospitalCompare’s Web site has information about heart attack, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, maternity, pneumonia, other conditions and other surgery. Review this report at http://www.calhospitalcompare.org.

Learn About Measures

To learn about quality measures for consumer reports, go to Select Measures to Report.

Page last reviewed November 2018
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: What Health Care Quality Measures Will You Report?. Content last reviewed November 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/talkingquality/plan/quality-measures.html
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