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The OECD Health Care Quality Indicators Project: History and Background

The Issue

The authors of this Commonwealth Fund–supported study describe the background, history, and approach of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Health Care Quality Indicators Project, an attempt to develop and implement measures to compare the quality of health systems across nations.

What the Study Found

After participating nations and organizations selected five priority areas — cardiac care, diabetes, mental health, patient safety, and primary care/prevention — expert panels identified clinically important, scientifically sound, and feasible measures for each area. The experts used a consensus process to pinpoint 86 indicators, including nine for diabetes, 12 for mental health, 17 for cardiac care, 21 for patient safety, and 27 for primary care/prevention.


The initial experience of the Health Care Quality Indicators Project shows that "international consensus can be achieved" in measure development. Still, much work remains to further measure development and data comparability in order to produce comprehensive, reliable data for benchmarking nations’ health care systems, the authors note.

Publication Details

Publication Date: April 21, 2011
Author: Soeren Mattke, Arnold M. Epstein, and Sheila Leatherman
Summary Writer: Martha Hostetter

S. Mattke, A. M. Epstein, and S. Leatherman, "The OECD Health Care Quality Indicators Project: History and Background," International Journal for Quality in Health Care, Sept. 2006 18(Suppl. 1):1–4.