Evaluating the Quality of Cancer Care

Development of Cancer Quality Indicators for a Global Quality Assessment Tool

Published in: Cancer, v. 88, no. 3, Feb. 1, 2000, p. 701-707

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Jennifer Malin, Steven M. Asch, Eve A. Kerr, Elizabeth A. McGlynn

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BACKGROUND: The rise of managed care has increased interest in measuring, reporting, and improving quality of care. To date, quality assessment has relied on a leading indicator approach, which may miss important variations in care. The authors developed cancer specific indicators using a novel case-based approach for a quality measurement tool designed to compare different managed care organizations. METHODS: Based on a review of the literature, quality indicators were developed for 6 types of cancer and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as well as 39 general adult conditions (GAC). The validity and feasibility of these candidate indicators were evaluated using three modified Delphi expert panels. The strength of evidence, type of care (preventive, acute, or chronic), function (screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up), and modality (history, physical examination, laboratory, medication, or other intervention) of the cancer/HIV quality indicators were compared with indicators developed for GAC. RESULTS: The final system included 117 of the 145 proposed cancer/HIV quality indicators (81%) and 569 of the 705 proposed GAC indicators (81%). A greater percentage of the cancer/HIV indicators were based on evidence from clinical trials compared with the GAC indicators (59% vs. 31%; P = 0.001). Cancer/HIV had significantly more indicators pertaining to chronic care than did GAC (74% vs. 56%; P = 0.001) as well as more indicators for treatment (53% vs. 39%; P = 0.004). CONCLUSIONS: Using the case-based approach, it is feasible to develop quality indicators for cancer that cover the continuum of care. Future studies will evaluate the reliability and validity of measurements made using these indicators in three managed care plans.

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