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AHCPR releases CONQUEST 1.0 database
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has released a
landmark computer tool that will make it easier for health plans,
providers, and purchasers to choose and use clinical performance
measures to assess the quality of the services they provide and
purchase. CONQUEST 1.0, the COmputerized Needs-Oriented QUality
Measurement Evaluation SysTem, summarizes information on
approximately 1,200 clinical performance measures developed by
public and private sector organizations to examine the quality of
Because measures are described using a common language, CONQUEST
1.0 will enable users to identify existing measures, compare them
directly, and select measures most appropriate to their needs.
According to AHCPR's Administrator Clifton R. Gaus, Sc.D.,
CONQUEST 1.0 will provide clinicians, purchasers, and health
plans with one-stop shopping for the most appropriate and
cost-effective clinical performance measures to meet their needs.
CONQUEST 1.0 is the only tool of its kind that is available
publicly. It links clinical conditions to measures through two
interlocking databases—a Condition Database and a Measure
Database—allowing users to target specific conditions or
CONQUEST 1.0 includes preprogrammed reports on measures and
conditions and also allows users to perform tailored searches and
create customized reports. Users can enter additional measures
and conditions of interest to them if these are not already in
the databases. CONQUEST 1.0 will help identify where new measures
The Condition Database currently contains information on 52
clinical conditions, representing those identified as prevalent
by major health surveys and the most costly diagnoses for
Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, CONQUEST 1.0 summarizes
recommendations from AHCPR-sponsored clinical practice
guidelines, findings from AHCPR's Patient Outcomes Research Team
(PORT) projects, and other key research.
To date, the Measure Database contains 53 measure sets developed
by AHCPR, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), the
Department of Veterans Affairs, and other Federal organizations;
accrediting organizations such as the National Committee for
Quality Assurance, and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation
of Healthcare Organizations; associations such as the Maryland
Hospital Association and the American Group Practice Association;
private sector organizations such as United Health Care and the
Pacific Area Business Group on Health; and research organizations
such as Harvard University and RAND Corporation.
In addition to information on the performance measures
themselves, CONQUEST 1.0 gives the user the ability to examine
the clinical rationale behind a given performance measure and the
methodological assumptions, data source requirements, sampling
requirements, the clinical setting for which the measure was
designed, and methods for "scoring" or analyzing a given measure,
as well as information on how to obtain measure
CONQUEST 1.0 also is a tool for learning about performance
measures, how to evaluate and select measures for a given
purpose, and how to identify and link performance measures that
are clinically related.
CONQUEST 1.0 was developed with AHCPR funding under a contract
with Mikalix and Company of Waltham, MA, and its subcontractor,
the Center for Quality of Care Research and Education at the
Harvard University School of Public Health. Methodological
guidance and leadership for the development of CONQUEST 1.0 were
provided by R. Heather Palmer, M.B., B.Ch., S.M., Director,
Center for Quality of Care Research and Education, Harvard
University School of Public Health, and Ann G. Lawthers, Sc.D.
CONQUEST 1.0 builds on AHCPR's Measurement Typology project to
collect, review, and analyze performance measures used by the
public and private sectors to examine quality of care. Phase I of
this project, released in March 1995, resulted in the two-volume
AHCPR report Understanding and Choosing Clinical Performance
Measures for Quality Improvement: Development of a Typology
(AHCPR Publication Nos. 95-N001 and 95-N002).
The system, which AHCPR is making available for widespread
testing and use, has been designed in Microsoft® Access®. AHCPR
has begun a preliminary project to user test CONQUEST 1.0. The
project, which is being jointly funded by AHCPR and the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation, will bring together a geographically,
professionally, and clinically diverse group of about 30
participants to evaluate the user-friendliness of the tool and
identify clinical performance measurement needs and the potential
of CONQUEST to meet those needs.
The CONQUEST 1.0 databases and the user's guide are available as
FTP files on AHCPR's site on the World Wide Web. The databases
have been created in Microsoft® Access® but may be usable with
other database software. The user's guide and final report are in
WordPerfect® versions 6.0 and greater. The appendixes are in
A limited supply of CONQUEST 1.0 materials including a diskette
containing the databases, overview of the final report, and
user's guide are available from AHCPR (AHCPR Publication No.
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