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Chang ET, Newberry S, Rubenstein LV, Motala A, Booth MJ, Shekelle PG. Quality Measures for Patients at Risk of Adverse Outcomes in the Veterans Health Administration: Expert Panel Recommendations. JAMA Network Open. 2022 Aug 1; 5(8):e2224938.
Importance: Despite longstanding efforts to improve health care quality for patients with complex needs who are at highest risk for hospitalization or death, to our knowledge, no guidance exists on what constitutes measurable high-quality care for this heterogeneous population. Identifying quality measures that are cross-cutting (ie, relevant to multiple chronic conditions and disease states) may enable health care professionals and health care systems to better design and report on quality improvement efforts for this patient population. Objective: To identify quality measures of care and prioritize quality-of-care concepts in the ambulatory primary care setting for patients in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) who have complex care needs and are at high risk for adverse outcomes, such as hospitalization or death. Evidence Review: In this expert panel assessment and prioritization, relevant measure concepts for future quality measure development in 3 care categories (assessment, management, and other features of health care) were extracted from a systematic review, conducted from June 2020 to June 2021, of published studies that suggested, evaluated, or used indicators of quality care for patients at high risk of adverse outcomes. Measure concepts associated with single conditions, surgical or other specialty care settings, and inpatient care were excluded. A panel of 14 experts (10 VHA leaders and staff, 2 non-VHA physician investigators, and 2 veterans) discussed and rated the importance of the remaining set of potentially relevant measure concepts using a modified RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method on January 15, 2021. Measure concepts were rated on a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest priority. A median rating of 7.5 or greater was used as the cutoff to identify the highest-priority items. Findings: The systematic review identified 519 measure concepts, from which 15 domains and 49 measure concepts were proposed for expert panel consideration. After panel discussions and changes to measure concepts, the expert panel rated 63 measure concepts in 13 domains. The measure concepts with the highest median ratings focused on caregiver availability and support, COVID-19 vaccination, and pneumonia vaccination (all rated 9.0); housing instability (rated 8.5); and physical function, depression symptoms, cognitive impairment, prescription regimen, primary care follow-up after an emergency department visit or hospitalization, and timely transmission of discharge information to primary care (all rated 8.0). Recommendations to improve care included timely assessment of housing instability, caregiver support, physical function, depression symptoms, and cognitive impairment; annual prescription regimen review; coordinated transitions in care; and preventive care including vaccinations. Conclusions and Relevance: The expert panelists identified a parsimonious set of high-priority, evidence-based, cross-cutting quality measure concepts for improving care of patients at high risk for adverse health outcomes in the VHA. These quality measures may inform both future research for patients at high risk and health care system quality improvement.