Challenges in Measuring Nursing Home and Home Health Quality

Lessons from the First National Healthcare Quality Report

Published in: Medical Care, v. 43, no. 3, suppl., Mar. 2005, p. I-24-I-32

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2005

by Judith Sangl, Debra Saliba, David R. Gifford, David F. Hittle

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BACKGROUND: The availability of patient assessment data collected by all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes (NHs) (the Minimum Data Set [MDS]) and home health agencies (HHAs) (the Outcome and Assessment Information Set [OASIS]) provides an opportunity to measure quality of care in these settings. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine methodologic issues encountered as these datasets are used to report the nation's health care in the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) at national and state levels. FINDINGS: Although the reliability of most data elements from MDS and OASIS are considered acceptable in research studies, mixed evidence exists for the reliability and validity of the quality measures themselves. Detection bias can affect the quality measures, particularly for pain and pressure ulcers. Although risk adjustment is used for all measures, effectiveness varies among measures and methods. Additional quality measures such as patient satisfaction, quality of life, and structural measures would be desirable but will require additional data collection efforts. Although the NH measures represent most NH residents, the HHA measures only apply to Medicare and Medicaid patients served by Medicare-certified agencies. Finally, the absence of clinical benchmarks limits the interpretation of the NHQR HHA and NH measures. CONCLUSIONS: Further developmental work is needed to address many of these issues to improve the usefulness of these quality measures in future NHQR reports.

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