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Putting Measurement to Work: Improving the Quality of Health Care Delivered to Adults

Workshop Brief for State and Local Health Policymakers

This workshop was designed for policymakers in the legislative and executive branches of State and local governments who are interested in how the changes in the health care system will effect those they serve. The workshop also presented current quality improvement practices that are in use that will help to insure State citizens get quality care. The workshop was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 17-19, 2001.

Overview | Objectives | Key Questions

About the Workshop Sponsor.


Americans are living longer and the incidence of chronic disease is increasing.1 Also, the health care system itself is changing: hospitals and health plans are merging2, health plan networks are becoming unstable3, more plans are exiting the Medicaid market then entering it4, and most are experiencing "sharp increases in [medical] costs and premiums."5

To counter these pressures, States can use their purchasing and regulatory power to improve the way health care is delivered to adults. Resources are limited, however, and States must obtain the best value and the greatest improvement possible from their use. Defined performance measures and quality improvement strategies can help policymakers determine the most effective use of their limited resources.

Performance measurement provides observable check-points for assessing the quality of care with respect to specific services, sub-populations, program goals, or individual provider organizations. Results of these measures could help States to conserve their resources by focusing attention on priority areas that are amenable to intervention and improvement. The ongoing use of credible measures and evidence-based research also provides information States can use to inform consumers, providers, and other stakeholders about the status of the health care delivery system.

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At the completion of this workshop, participants were expected to be better able to:

  • Use a systematic approach for assessing and improving the quality of care for adults.
  • Identify priorities and set reasonable expectations for improving the quality of care.
  • Understand and be better able to deal with the complexity of designing effective quality improvement strategies including multiple payer types that can be sustained.
  • Apply the quality improvement cycle in long-term care programs.

Key Questions

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1. Institute for the Future. Health and health care 2010: The forecast, the challenge. Princeton (NJ): The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; 2000 Feb.

2. Institute of Medicine. Crossing the Quality Chasm. Washington (DC): National Academy Press, 2001.

3. Strunk BC, Devers K, and Hurley RE. Health plan-provider showdowns on the rise, issue brief 40. Washington (DC): Center for Studying Health System Change; 2001 Jun.

4. Kaye N. Medicaid managed care: A guide for states, 5th edition. Portland (ME): National Academy for State Health Policy; 2001 May.

5. Hogan C, Ginsburg PB, and Gabel R. Tracking health care costs: inflation is back. Health Aff 2000;19(6):217-23.

For More Information

Audiotapes of the workshop are available for purchase. If you would like to order audiotapes of this or other workshops, please call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295.

AHRQ's User Liaison Program (ULP) disseminates health services research findings in easily understandable and usable formats through interactive workshops. Workshops and other support are planned to meet the needs of Federal, State, and local policymakers, and other health services research users, such as purchasers, administrators, and health plans.

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