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Primary care practices can perform very well in several quality areas

Primary care practices can achieve high performance across a number of quality indicators, concludes a study of primary care practices in the Practice Partner Research Network (PPRNet). In fact, these top performers can serve as a benchmark for primary care performance, note the study authors. They analyzed data from the electronic medical records of 87 PPRNet practices in 35 States representing more than 700,000 patients to calculate Achievable Benchmarks of Care™ (ABCs) for 54 primary care quality indicators. ABCs ranged from certain diabetes measures for patients with that condition, prescribing of certain drugs for heart failure patients, various cancer screenings, adult immunizations, and counseling for substance abuse and obesity.

At the practices studied, ABCs ranged from 25 percent to 99 percent. High ABCs (90 percent or greater) were achieved for blood pressure screening, lipid screening, and avoiding prescription of antibiotics in upper respiratory infection. The summary of ABCs on a broad range of evidence-based quality indicators can be applied to other primary care practices.

Although ABCs offer realistic benchmarks for performance in individual practices, they may also be considered by insurers in pay-for-performance initiatives and by national stakeholders as targets for health care quality, note the researchers. Their study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13716).

See "Achievable benchmarks of care for primary care quality indicators in a practice-based research network," by Andrea M. Wessell, Pharm.D., B.C.P.S., C.D.E., Heather A. Liszka, M.D., M.S.C.R., Paul J. Nietert, Ph.D., and others, in the January/February 2008 American Journal of Medical Quality 23, pp. 39-46.

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