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AHRQ's CONQUEST database helps medical organizations measure and improve clinical performance

Medical treatment in the United States results in unintended injuries affecting more than 1 million people each year. Patients also receive unnecessary or inappropriate health care services, which reflect overuse, underuse, and misuse. Clearly, it is important for organizations to be able to measure and improve clinical performance. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has developed a clinical database called the Computerized Needs-Oriented Quality Measurement Evaluation System (CONQUEST), described in a recent article by AHRQ researcher Margaret A. Keyes, M.A., which has the potential to simplify and substantially reduce the effort needed to measure and improve clinical performance.

Ms. Keyes points out, for example, that CONQUEST could be used by a managed care organization (MCO) that is treating a growing number of adult diabetic patients covered by a single employer with which it has a long-standing contract. The MCO is interested in the preventive treatments or services that would help defer the more serious complications of this costly disease and in how the MCO is performing relative to recommended services or treatments. Using the conditions portion of the CONQUEST database, the MCO user could search for information on type II diabetes, treatments, and services recommended. After identifying a service of interest, the user could then move to the measures component of CONQUEST and search either measures explicitly related to the condition, those related to a procedure, or measures associated with services used in the prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, or management of the condition.

CONQUEST might uncover six measures linked to glycosylated hemoglobin testing, with some measures addressing, for example, the frequency of the test or the time since the last test. Looking further, the user finds which measures were developed for internal quality improvement, making them suitable for the user's application.

Details are in "CONQUEST 2.0: An emerging clinical performance measurement tool," by Ms. Keyes, in the Journal for Healthcare Quality 22(3), pp. 29-36, 2000.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 01-R025) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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