Developing Medical Record-Based Performance Indicators to Measure the Quality of Mental Healthcare

Published in: Journal for Healthcare Quality, v. 33, no. 1, Jan./Feb. 2011, p. 49-67

Posted on RAND.org on January 15, 2011

by Katherine E. Watkins, Marcela Horvitz-Lennon, Leah B. Caldarone, Lisa R. Shugarman, Brad Smith, Thomas E. Mannle, Jr., Daniel R. Kivlahan, Harold Alan Pincus

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Recent attention has focused on validity and feasibility of different approaches to developing performance indicators for the purposes of quality improvement and value-based purchasing. This paper presents the methodology used to develop a comprehensive set of performance indicators that will be used for a national evaluation of the mental healthcare provided by the Veterans Health Administration. The paper report on the indicators' technical specifications and the United States Public Health System Task Force defined strength of supporting evidence. Indicators were reviewed iteratively for meaningfulness, utility, feasibility, and supporting evidence until a final set of measures of acceptable validity and feasibility was produced with technical specifications. Fifty-seven mental health performance indicators that use information from both the medical record and administrative data (hybrid indicators) and 31 administrative-data only indicators are presented. Of the 57 hybrid indicators, 13 indicators are supported by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality grade I evidence, 5 indicators are grade II, and 39 indicators are grade III. This paper describes the methodology used to develop 88 performance indicators of the quality of mental health and substance abuse treatment, and presents the technical specifications associated with each indicator.

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