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Journal of Ambulatory Care Management:
doi: 10.1097/01.JAC.0000304096.59205.e0
Article

The Feasibility and Value of New Measures Showing Patterns of Quality for Patients With 3 Chronic Conditions

Davidson, Stephen M. PhD; Shwartz, Michael PhD; Stafford, Randall S. MD, PhD

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to create new measures of quality that combine individual service measures. Using an all-or-none approach, we identify 5 levels of care reflecting the extent to which optimal patterns of service were obtained by patients with asthma, diabetes, and heart failure. We also assess the feasibility of these levels-of-care measures and their potential value in quality improvement efforts. The study was designed to analyze claims data to reflect patterns of services used in a single metropolitan market of about 1 million residents in the northeastern United States. More than 80,000 patients insured over 4 years (1994–1997) had claims with 1 or more of 3 chronic conditions. The analysis showed that the measures discriminated effectively among groups of patients with the 3 chronic conditions and highlighted areas to target quality improvement efforts. Although the numbers vary by year, for two of the diagnoses, most patients were in the lowest categories (59%–75%), and for the third, 40% were in these categories. Few were in the highest category. Most patients were in the same category from one year to the next. The levels-of-care approach to quality measurement can help caregivers and policy makers find methods for avoiding unnecessary utilization and expenditures while raising—not lowering—the probability that utilization patterns will conform to condition-specific recommended care.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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