Web site is a boon to quality managers

If you’re looking for resources to help with quality improvement programs in your facility, access the new National Quality Measures Clearinghouse web site (www.qualitymeasures.ahrq.gov).

The site is the first collection of summaries of evidence-based quality measures and measure sets publicly available on the web for use in evaluating and improving the quality of health care, says Jean Slutsky, acting director of the Center for Practice and Technology Assessment at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which launched the site in February 2003.

"Quality managers are able to go to one place to look for quality measures," she says. "The site is updated weekly and allows comparisons across measures."

The site allows you to "compare yourself against yourself," says Slutsky. "If you have identified a quality problem, this can show you how care has improved over a period of time."

Quality managers can use the site to make sure their data definitions are consistent with industry standards, use the same denominators that are recommended for the measure, or as a source of potential measures when a committee or group asks, "What should we be measuring?" says Slutsky.

For example, you may be looking for measures to implement that are used by accrediting organizations to evaluate quality of care given to heart failure patients. All measures related to heart failure and those used by accrediting organizations are accessible through the "Detailed Search" page.

After entering the condition, you can choose the option that allows you to retrieve those particular measures used by accrediting organizations.

The site is linked to the The National Guideline Clearinghouse database, which has more than 1,000 evidence-based clinical practice guidelines from 165 organizations, she adds.

"Because these sites are linked, if a measure has a guideline that it was developed from, you can go back and forth between them," explains Slutsky.

Developing guidelines is difficult and expensive, says Slutsky. "So if a guideline already exists, it’s easier to see if it fits the needs of your facility, rather than start from scratch," she says.

[For more information about the site, contact:

Jean Slutsky, Acting Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Center for Practice and Technology Assessment, 6010 Executive Blvd., Suite 300, Rockville, MD 20852. E-mail: info@qualitymeasures.ahrq.gov.]