Data Used to Improve Quality of Health Care

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Abstract of Journal Article -- October 2000

Symposium on Quality in Health Care

By Mark Bing, MD, MPH; Robert L. Abel, PhD; Peter Pendergrass, MD, MPH; Karen Sabharwal, MPH; and Carol McCauley, RHIA

Many factors are involved in improving the quality of health care. Using data to measure performance is an essential element. Whether the objective is to improve outcomes (eg, reducing mortality among patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction) or to improve a process of care (eg, increasing the rate of beta blocker administration at discharge in patients with acute myocardial infarction), data are central to assessing the quality of health care. Data help determine where opportunities for improvement exist and document the impact that system change interventions have made on the outcomes or processes of care for a clinical condition or topic. Measuring performance is critical to learning how your practice compares with best practices. If you haven't measured, you do not know. This article will focus specifically on the role and use of data to improve processes of health care for Medicare beneficiaries. Examples of projects and results are cited from the work of the Texas Medical Foundation, which is the Medicare peer review organization under the Health Care Financing Administration's Health Care Quality Improvement Program.

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