Developing Quality Indicators for Older Adults

Transfer from the USA to the UK Is Feasible

Published in: Quality and Safety in Health Care, v. 13, no. 4, Aug. 2004, p. 260-264

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2003

by N Steel, D Melzer, Paul G. Shekelle, Neil S. Wenger, D. Forsyth, B. C. McWilliams

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BACKGROUND: Measurement of the quality of health care is essential for quality improvement, and patients are an underused source of data about quality of care. The authors describe the adaptation of a set of USA quality indicators for use in patient interview surveys in England, to measure the extent to which older patients receive a broad range of effective healthcare interventions in both primary and secondary care. METHOD: One hundred and nineteen quality indicators covering 16 clinical areas, based on a set of indicators for the care of vulnerable elderly patients in the USA, were reviewed by a panel of 10 clinical experts in England. A modified version of the RAND/UCLA appropriateness method was used and panel members were supplied with literature reviews summarising the evidence base for each quality indicator. The indicators were sent for comment before the panel meeting to UK charitable organisations for older people. RESULTS: The panel rated 102 of the 119 indicators (86%) as valid for use in England; 17 (14%) were rejected as invalid. All 58 indicators about treatment or continuity and follow up were rated as valid compared with just over half (13 of 24) of the indicators about screening. CONCLUSIONS: These 102 indicators are suitable for use in patient interview surveys, including the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). The systematic measurement of quality of care at the population level and identification of gaps in quality is essential for quality improvement. There is potential for transfer of quality indicators between countries, at least for the health care of older people.

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