Study Shows New Approach to Measuring Quality Helps Identify Shortcomings

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<p>A new <a href="/publications/in-the-literature/2008/mar/the-feasibility-and-value-of-new-measures-showing-patterns-of-quality-for-patients-with-three-chro
">Commonwealth-fund supported study</a>--focused on the patterns of care delivered to 80,000 patients with diabetes, heart failure, or asthma--found that many patients received poor-quality care.<br><br>The study, led by Stephen M. Davidson, Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Management, set out to demonstrate the feasibility of measuring quality of care in terms of patterns of service or "levels of care," rather than individual measures of performance.<br><br>The researchers developed five quality categories for each condition. For example, level I diabetes care--the lowest quality level of care--meant patients had no outpatient visits, no glucose test, and no continuity of hypoglycemic medications; patients in level II care received only one of those services. The team found that the majority of heart failure and diabetes patients received care in the lowest two categories. Patterns tended to persist from year to year.<br><br>The authors also determined that the methodology they developed was effective and valuable. "[This] approach to quality measurement can help caregivers and policymakers find methods for avoiding unnecessary utilization and expenditures while raising--not lowering--the probability that utilization patterns will conform to condition-specific recommended care," they concluded.</p>