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New guide now available for using AHRQ's Quality Indicators for hospital quality reporting and payment

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a new guide for using the Agency's Inpatient Quality Indicators or Patient Safety Indicators to report on hospital quality or make payment decisions. The Guidance for Using the AHRQ Quality Indicators for Hospital-Level Public Reporting or Payment can be downloaded from AHRQ Quality Indicators' Web site at www.qualityindicators.ahrq.gov/documentation.htm.

AHRQ's Quality Indicators are measurement tools that were originally developed by AHRQ and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University to help individual hospitals use their own discharge data to better understand and improve the care they provide. Hospitals and hospital associations have used these tools extensively for this purpose. More recently, the indicators have been used by State data organizations, employers, health plans, and others seeking to improve quality through public reporting and pay-for-performance initiatives. Given the expanding use and interest in the Quality Indicators, AHRQ created the guide to help answer questions about if, when, and how to use them for these new purposes.

The Quality Indicators measure outcomes that are of interest to consumers, such as patient safety and complication rates. They are based on data that hospitals already collect, which makes their use relatively accessible and inexpensive.

This guide is the first in a series of activities that will help users evaluate which individual indicators or groups of indicators they may want to incorporate into their local quality reporting or payment programs. The new guide helps users customize their use of the Quality Indicators. For example, they can place greater or lesser emphasis on a particular type of care, such as cardiac care, or they can make allowances for the types of hospitals (e.g., community or teaching, low volume or high volume) in their area and for variations in the quality of data provided by area hospitals. The guide also suggests ways to best use the Quality Indicators, such as pairing data on deaths and volume indicators or using multiple years of data.

Select for more information on AHRQ's Quality Indicators.

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