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

What Can We Measure?


Carla Zema, Kerr White Visiting Scholar, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

A number of performance measures exist that can be used to assess delivery of health care to adults. Ms. Zema identified several types of data that can be used to produce these measures.

Policymakers can use:

  • Administrative data to assess an entity's ability to deliver quality care.
  • Claims and encounter data, medical records, enrollee/patient/provider surveys, and various State and national databases to examine the care delivered.
  • Enrollee/patient/provider surveys to examine people's experience with care.

The measures produced from the data can be used for program management, program/plan/provider monitoring, quality improvement, consumer reporting, and accountability. The specific measure(s) selected depend on the purpose of the measurement.

Policymakers need also consider:

  • The validity of the measure and data.
  • How to determine an acceptable level of performance.
  • The resources needed to produce the measure.
  • The potential impact of improvement in the area measured.

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AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care