Relationship Between Quality Improvement Processes and Clinical Performance

Published in: The American Journal of Managed Care, v. 16, no. 8, Aug. 2010, p. 601-606

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by Cheryl L. Damberg, Stephen M. Shortell, Kristiana Raube, Robin R Gillies, Diane Rittenhouse, Rodney K McCurdy, Lawrence P Casalino, John L. Adams

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Objectives: To examine the association between performance on clinical process measures and intermediate outcomes and the use of chronic care management processes (CMPs), electronic medical record (EMR) capabilities, and participation in external quality improvement (QI) initiatives. Study Design: Cross-sectional analysis of linked 2006 clinical performance scores from the Integrated Healthcare Association's pay-for-performance program and survey data from the 2nd National Study of Physician Organizations among 108 California physician organizations (POs). Methods: Controlling for differences in PO size, organization type (medical group or independent practice association), and Medicaid revenue, we used ordinary least squares regression analysis to examine the association between the use of CMPs, EMR capabilities, and external QI initiatives and performance on the following 3 clinical composite measures: diabetes management, processes of care, and intermediate outcomes (diabetes and cardiovascular). Results: Greater use of CMPs was significantly associated with clinical performance: among POs using more than 5 CMPs, we observed a 3.2-point higher diabetes management score on a performance scale with scores ranging from 0 to 100 (P <.001), while for each 1.0-point increase on the CMP index, we observed a 1.0-point gain in intermediate outcomes (P <.001). Participation in external QI initiatives was positively associated with improved delivery of clinical processes of care: a 1.0-point increase on the QI index translated into a 1.4-point gain in processes-of-care performance (P = .02). No relationship was observed between EMR capabilities and performance. Conclusion: Greater investments in CMPs and QI interventions may help POs raise clinical performance and achieve success under performance-based accountability schemes.

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