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Systematic Evidence-Based Quality Measurement Life-Cycle Approach to Measure Retirement in CHIPRA

      Abstract

      Objective

      In 2009, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly released an initial child core set (CCS) of health care quality measures for voluntary reporting by state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs. CMS is responsible for implementing the reporting program and for updating the CCS annually. We assessed selected CCS measures for potential retirement.

      Methods

      We identified a 23-member external advisory group to provide relevant expertise. We worked with the group to identify 4 major criteria with multiple subcomponents for assessing the measures. We provided information corresponding to each criterion and subcriterion, using a variety of sources such as the 2009 Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX), state-level Medicaid and CHIP data submitted to the CMS, and summaries of published literature on clinical and quality improvement effectiveness related to the CCS topics. Using this information, the group: 1) used a modified Delphi process to score the measures in 2 anonymous scoring rounds (on a scale of 1 to 9 in each round); 2) voted on whether each measure should be retired; and 3) provided narrative explanations of their choices (which formed the basis of our qualitative findings). Recommendations were reviewed by CMS before promulgation to state programs.

      Results

      The Subcommittee of the National Advisory Council on Healthcare Research and Quality (SNAC) recommended that the 4 major criteria be importance, scientific acceptability, feasibility, and usability. The SNAC recommended 3 measures for retirement: access to primary care; testing for strep before recommending antibiotics for pharyngitis; and annual HbA1c testing of children with diabetes. Explanations for suggesting retirement of the measures included: views that the well-visit measures were a better measure of access than the primary care measure; a likely ceiling effect (pharyngitis); and the paucity of clinical evidence and low prevalence (both for HbA1c). CMS recommended that state Medicaid and CHIP programs retire 2 of the recommended measures from the CCS, but retained the access to primary care measure.

      Conclusions

      Periodic reassessment of the value of health care quality measures can reduce reporting burden and allow measure users to focus on measures with higher likelihood of leading to improvements in quality of care and child health outcomes.

      Keywords

      In an environment with increasing quality measurement demands,
      • Panzer R.J.
      • Gotomer R.S.
      • et al.
      Increasing demands for quality measurement.
      attention to the life cycle of quality measures is essential.
      • Lee T.
      Eulogy for a quality measure.
      A life-cycle approach to quality measurement may involve the periodic examination of measures to determine whether or not they continue to be important, valid, and feasible for use.

      National Committee for Quality Assurance. HEDIS life cycle. https://www.ncqa.org/tabid/425/Default.aspx. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      Unthinking continued use of quality measures—the alternative to a life-cycle approach—creates unwarranted burdens on reporting entities and can limit opportunities for more valuable measures to enter the marketplace and drive improvements in quality, equity, and child health.

      Institute of Medicine. Future directions for the national healthcare quality and disparities reports. April 2010. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Future-Directions-for-the-National-Healthcare-Quality-and-Disparities-Reports.aspx. Accessed May 26, 2014.

      Here we report on an effort to reexamine selected health care quality measures from a child core set (CCS) voluntarily reported on by a number of state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs over the 3 federal fiscal years (FFY) from 2010 through 2012.

      Background

      As described fully by Mangione-Smith et al,
      • Mangione-Smith R.
      • Schiff J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Identifying children’s health care quality measures for Medicaid and CHIP: an evidence-informed, publicly transparent expert process.
      under the auspices of the 2009 Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA), an expert panel (the 2009 Subcommittee of the National Advisory Council on Healthcare Research and Quality [2009 SNAC]) established and used 3 principal criteria (importance, validity, and feasibility) and a series of Delphi processes and voting to recommend an initial CCS relevant to all child age groups and all settings in which children received health care services. The measures were for potential future voluntary use by Medicaid and CHIP programs. By the FFY 2012 reporting period, at least 1 of the 24 measures was being reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for all states and the District of Columbia; in turn, as required by CHIPRA, the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services released this information in a September 2013 report.

      Sebelius K. The Department of Health and Human Services 2013 annual report on the quality of care for children in Medicaid and CHIP. Available at: http://medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Quality-of-Care/Downloads/2013-Ann-Sec-Rept.pdf. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      In early 2013, as part of the continuing partnership between the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and CMS, CMS asked for AHRQ's assistance in exploring whether some of the CCS measures should be retired from the CCS set so that CMS could reflect the changes in its annual update due January 2014. By early 2013, there were several reasons to consider retiring 1 or more quality measures from the CCS. These included: lessons to be learned from 3 years of state and CMS experience with the CCS

      Sebelius K. The Department of Health and Human Services 2013 annual report on the quality of care for children in Medicaid and CHIP. Available at: http://medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Quality-of-Care/Downloads/2013-Ann-Sec-Rept.pdf. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      ; the possibility of updated science to inform consideration of the measures' validity and reliability; and an emerging imperative for alignment with other public and private policies on the updating of quality measure sets.

      National Committee for Quality Assurance. HEDIS life cycle. https://www.ncqa.org/tabid/425/Default.aspx. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
      A Blueprint for the CMS Measures Management System Health Services Advisory Group.

      National Quality Forum. Maintenance of NQF-endorsed performance measures: measuring performance. 2014. Available at: http://www.qualityforum.org. Accessed May 24, 2014.

      Retirement of measures has become a theme nationally as the number of quality indicators, many of them overlapping, has grown. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the National Quality Forum (NQF) both reevaluate measures every 3 years, with measure retirement or removal as a possible outcome of the reviews.

      National Quality Forum. Maintenance of NQF-endorsed performance measures: measuring performance. 2014. Available at: http://www.qualityforum.org. Accessed May 24, 2014.

      • National Quality Forum Measure Applications (MAP) Partnership
      MAP 2014 Recommendations on Measures for More Than 20 Federal Programs—Final Report.
      Review of measures for potential retirement is a component of the CMS blueprint.
      • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
      A Blueprint for the CMS Measures Management System Health Services Advisory Group.
      Beyond key national entities, some health care professional societies recognize the importance of considering retirement or removal of measures as part the quality-measure life cycle.
      • Shyu J.
      • YL
      • Burleson J.
      • et al.
      Performance measures in radiology.
      However, in comparison with the level of detailed criteria related to measure endorsement, guidance for the retirement or removal of measures from measure sets is still somewhat broad. For example, NCQA notes that it may retire measures when it is “clear… that a measure no longer adds value commensurate with the cost of data collection and reporting.”

      National Committee for Quality Assurance. HEDIS life cycle. https://www.ncqa.org/tabid/425/Default.aspx. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      NQF recommendations are based on a measure approaching being “topped out” or current development of “superior” measures.
      • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
      A Blueprint for the CMS Measures Management System Health Services Advisory Group.

      Methods

       Overview

      The authors and a group of experts (called the 2013 SNAC for Subcommittee on Children's Healthcare Quality Measures of the AHRQ National Advisory Council on Healthcare Research and Quality

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. National Advisory Council on Healthcare Research and Quality. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      ) undertook the reexamination of 20 CMS-selected CCS measures. As shown in the Figure, the steps for considering CCS measures for potential retirement included: 1) selection by CMS of a subset of the initial CCS measures for consideration for potential retirement; 2) appointment of the 2013 SNAC); 3) a collaborative effort across AHRQ, CMS, and the 2013 SNAC to identify relevant criteria; 4) identification, consideration, and use of relevant information sources by which to assess adherence to the agreed-upon criteria; 5) the 2013 SNAC's application of agreed-upon criteria and criteria-relevant information to the selected measures in 2 rounds of a Modified Delphi approach
      • Mangione-Smith R.
      • Schiff J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Identifying children’s health care quality measures for Medicaid and CHIP: an evidence-informed, publicly transparent expert process.
      scoring and voting on each measure; 6) transmittal of the SNAC guidance to CMS; and 7) CMS consideration and transmittal of its recommendations in its January 2014 update. In addition, members of the SNAC provided comments explaining their scoring and voting decisions. These comments formed the basis of our qualitative findings.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure2013 CCS measure retirement process. CMS, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; SNAC Subcommittee on children's healthcare quality measures of the AHRQ National Advisory Council on Healthcare Research and Quality.

       Measure Selection

      Of the 26 CCS measures as of January 2013, CMS selected 20 for consideration for possible retirement. As shown in Table 1, the measures selected included 4 related to perinatal care, 9 related to clinical preventive services for children and adolescents, 3 related to management of acute conditions, and 4 related to management of chronic conditions. Of the CCS measures not considered, 2 dental measures were excluded because data came from states' Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment reports

      Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Early and periodic screening, diagnostic, and treatment. Available at: http://www.medicaid.gov/. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      ; the Child Medicaid CAHPS was excluded because it can be used to fulfil a CHIPRA requirement for state CHIP programs

      US Congress. Public Law 111-3, The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. February 4, 2009. Available at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ003.111. Accessed January 9, 2010.

      ; a measure related to antibiotic overuse in otitis media with effusion was removed from the CCS in January 2013 because data proved too challenging to collect

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Improving the initial core set: CHIPRA Pediatric Quality Measures Program. Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/index.html. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      ; and 3 measures had just been added to the CCS in January 2013.

      Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. SHO 13–002—Re: 2013 Children’s core set of health care quality measures, State Health Official (SHO) letters. January 24, 2013. Available at: http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/downloads/SHO-13-002.pdf. Accessed May 24, 2014.

      Table 1Child Core Set Measures Under Consideration for Retirement
      MeasureMeasure Steward per CMSBrief Measure Label
      Perinatal measuresNCQATimeliness of prenatal care
      NCQAFrequency of ongoing prenatal care
      CDCLive births weighing less than 2,500 grams
      Cesarean rate for nulliparous singleton vertex
      Child and adolescent clinical preventive servicesNCQAChildhood immunization status
      NCQAAdolescent immunization status
      NCQAWeight assessment and counseling for nutrition and physical activity for children/adolescents: body mass index assessment for children/adolescents
      OHSUDevelopmental screening in the first 3 y of life
      NCQAChlamydia screening
      NCQAWell-child visits in the first 15 mo of life
      NCQAWell-child visits in years 3, 4, 5, and 6 of life
      NCQAAdolescent well-care visit
      NCQAChild and adolescent access to primary care practitioners
      Management of acute conditionsNCQAAppropriate testing for children with pharyngitis
      NCQAAmbulatory care–ED visits
      CDCPediatric central line–associated bloodstream infections—neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric intensive care unit
      Management of chronic conditionsAlabama MedicaidAnnual percentage of asthma patients 2 to 20 y old with ≥1 asthma-related ED visits
      NCQAFollow-up care for children prescribed ADHD medication
      NCQAAnnual pediatric hemoglobin (HbA1c) testing
      NCQAFollow-up after hospitalization for mental illness
      CMS indicates Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; NCQA, National Committee for Quality Assurance; ED, emergency department; CDC, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and ADHD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

       Selection of the 2013 SNAC

      The 2013 SNAC members were selected by AHRQ and CMS from 2 overlapping pools of experts and stakeholders: subject matter experts and Medicaid/CHIP experts (primarily officials working for Medicaid or CHIP). All 2013 SNAC members

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Appendix A. 2013 Subcommittee of the National Advisory Council on Healthcare Research and Quality (SNAC) members. Background paper. February 2014. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/measure_retirement/measure_retirementapa.html. Accessed June 23, 2014.

      signed a form certifying they had no conflict of interest that would affect their assessments of the 20 CCS measures, and agreed to participate actively in the entire process.

       Selection of Criteria

      We based our initial suggestions to the 2013 SNAC for measure retirement criteria primarily on the 3 criteria used in 2009
      • Mangione-Smith R.
      • Schiff J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Identifying children’s health care quality measures for Medicaid and CHIP: an evidence-informed, publicly transparent expert process.
      and the desirable measure attributes codified in the CHIPRA Pediatric Quality Measures Program Candidate Measure Submission Form.

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Candidate measure submission form (CPCF). CHIPRA. February 2014. Accessed May 24, 2014.

      • Mistry K.B.
      • Chesley F.
      • Llanos K.
      • Dougherty D.
      Advancing children's healthcare and outcomes through the Pediatric Quality Measures Program.
      The desirable measure attributes were informed by criteria used by NQF but were modified in order to emphasize the CHIPRA foci on children, public insurance, and the existence of racial and ethnic and other socioeconomic and special needs disparities. The retirement criteria we proposed to the 2013 SNAC also took into account emerging guidance on recommending measures for retirement.

      National Committee for Quality Assurance. HEDIS life cycle. https://www.ncqa.org/tabid/425/Default.aspx. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
      A Blueprint for the CMS Measures Management System Health Services Advisory Group.

      National Quality Forum. Maintenance of NQF-endorsed performance measures: measuring performance. 2014. Available at: http://www.qualityforum.org. Accessed May 24, 2014.

      AHRQ initially proposed 5 criteria to the SNAC initially: importance, measure reliability and validity, measurement performance, whether a better measure was available, and feasibility. In response, the 2013 SNAC expressed a strong preference for the following: 1) reducing the number of major criteria; 2) relabeling the measure reliability and validity criterion as scientific acceptability to be consistent with NQF usage; 3) incorporating state performance into the importance criterion; 4) adding the criterion of usability; and 5) removing attempts at a systematic consideration of whether better measures were available. To afford some guidance on potential alternative measures, we gave the 2013 SNAC a list of the measures previously submitted and in development under the CHIPRA Pediatric Quality Measures Program,
      • Mistry K.B.
      • Chesley F.
      • Llanos K.
      • Dougherty D.
      Advancing children's healthcare and outcomes through the Pediatric Quality Measures Program.
      but we relied primarily on SNAC knowledge and opinion to determine if a better measure was available for the CCS topics. In summary, AHRQ and the 2013 SNAC arrived at the following criteria by consensus: importance, scientific acceptability, feasibility, and usability (Box).
      NQF Definitions of Major Criteria Used to Consider Retirement of CCS Measures
      Tabled 1
      CriterionDescription
      ImportanceExtent to which the specific measure focus is evidence based, important to making significant gains in health care quality, and improving health outcomes for a specific high-priority (high-impact) aspect of health care where there is variation in or overall less than optimal performance.
      Scientific acceptabilityExtent to which the measure, as specified, produces consistent (reliable) and credible (valid) results about the quality of care when implemented.
      FeasibilityExtent to which the specifications, including measure logic, required data that are readily available or could be captured without undue burden and can be implemented for performance measurement.
      UsabilityExtent to which potential audiences (eg, consumers, purchasers, providers, policy makers) are using or could use performance results for both accountability and performance improvement to achieve the goal of high-quality, efficient health care for individuals or populations.
      NQF indicates National Quality Forum; CCS, Child Core Set.

       Identification of Information Types and Sources

      Once criteria were agreed to, we identified relevant available data sources and provided the 2013 SNAC members with a draft template showing types and sources of information that we proposed to use to report on each criterion and subcriterion across the measures (as data were available). Many of the SNAC's ideas for additional information were unable to be accommodated with the resources available. Supplemental document 1 at the AHRQ CHIPRA Web site

      Available at: www.ahrq.gov/PQMP-supplemental-materials. Accessed August 14, 2014.

      provides methodological detail on the types and sources of data we made available for each of the major criteria and their subcriteria as well as the template we used to provide the information.

       Summary Chart of Information

      In addition to providing a detailed measure report for each measure, we also prepared a summary table in response to the SNAC's request for a format that would facilitate easier scanning of key data points across the 20 measures. As shown in the summary table at the AHRQ CHIPRA Web site,

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Table 1. Initial, recommended set of children’s health care quality measures. Background report on request for public comment on initial, recommended core set of Children’s Healthcare Quality Measures for voluntary use by Medicaid and CHIP programs. December 2009. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/overview/background/tables.html. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      the key data points related to the importance criterion were: numbers of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees potentially affected by the measure; variation in the number of enrollees potentially affected by race/ethnicity; costs to Medicaid/CHIP of the service that was related to the measure; the evidence grade for the clinical focus of the measure; up to 5 components of performance on the measure (median performance in the latest year; 25th and 75th percentile performance in the latest year; performance trends for FFY 2010–2012; and, if available, the means and 10th and 90th percentiles in Medicaid and Commercial Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) performance for calendar year 2012). For the scientific acceptability criterion, key data points reported were measure reliability and measure validity. For the feasibility criterion, key data points were 3 indicators of the level of state reporting on the measures (number of states reporting in FFY 2012, state reporting trend FFY 2010–2012, and number of states reporting that data were not available to them in FFY 2012) and the data source or sources for the measure. For the usability criterion, the 1 key data point was a summary of the evidence for improvability, based on the AHRQ analysis of published literature.
      As detailed in the summary table,

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Table 1. Initial, recommended set of children’s health care quality measures. Background report on request for public comment on initial, recommended core set of Children’s Healthcare Quality Measures for voluntary use by Medicaid and CHIP programs. December 2009. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/overview/background/tables.html. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      most of the importance information related to numbers of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees affected and costs to Medicaid/CHIP came from analyses of the 2009 Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX) data, sometimes supplemented by data from the AHRQ Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). Among the measures for which costs to Medicaid/CHIP were available, the highest costs were for discharges of all live-born infants ($5.9 billion when fee-for-service and managed care are combined as in HCUP; relevant to the 2 prenatal care measures), followed by the costs for hospitalizations for C-sections ($3 billion), and fee-for-service payments only for inpatient and residential treatment admissions for child and adolescent mental health care ($2.6 billion). The greatest numbers of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees potentially affected by a measure were affected by the access to primary care measure, which pertains to all 1- through 19-year-olds. Although white beneficiaries accounted for a plurality (about 35%) of enrollees across measures for which race and ethnicity were available, between 20 and 28% of enrollees were black and 21% to 30% of enrollees were Hispanic, depending on the measure.
      Continuing with the summary table,

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Table 1. Initial, recommended set of children’s health care quality measures. Background report on request for public comment on initial, recommended core set of Children’s Healthcare Quality Measures for voluntary use by Medicaid and CHIP programs. December 2009. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/overview/background/tables.html. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      new evidence grades, a key subcriterion of importance, were approximated for 5 measures for which the grades were lower than a B in 2009
      • Mangione-Smith R.
      • Schiff J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Identifying children’s health care quality measures for Medicaid and CHIP: an evidence-informed, publicly transparent expert process.

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Table 1. Initial, recommended set of children’s health care quality measures. Background report on request for public comment on initial, recommended core set of Children’s Healthcare Quality Measures for voluntary use by Medicaid and CHIP programs. December 2009. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/overview/background/tables.html. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      (AHRQ CHIPRA's supplemental document 1

      Available at: www.ahrq.gov/PQMP-supplemental-materials. Accessed August 14, 2014.

      ). Among the updated grades, the 2 prenatal care measures were elevated to a B− from the B and D grades in 2009
      • Mangione-Smith R.
      • Schiff J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Identifying children’s health care quality measures for Medicaid and CHIP: an evidence-informed, publicly transparent expert process.

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Table 1. Initial, recommended set of children’s health care quality measures. Background report on request for public comment on initial, recommended core set of Children’s Healthcare Quality Measures for voluntary use by Medicaid and CHIP programs. December 2009. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/overview/background/tables.html. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      and the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) follow-up measure was upgraded to a C from a D. However, the evidence grades for asthma emergency department (ED) visits and for HbA1c testing remained what they were in 2009 (grades of C and D, respectively).
      Medicaid/CHIP state median performance rates, also a key subcriterion of importance, ranged from 28% for developmental screening in the first year of life to 85% for timely prenatal care across states using the appropriate technical specifications. Relatively low median performance rates were found for body mass index assessment (42%); chlamydia screening (49%); adolescent well visits (46%); and ADHD follow-up (43% in the initiation phase, 52% in the continuation and maintenance phase). Relatively substantial state-level variations in performance were found for adolescent immunizations (58% to 81%). However, performance showed upward trends over time for many measures, including adolescent access to primary care, and follow-up after mental hospitalization.
      For the feasibility domain, information was mixed. More states reported data on the measures to the CMS CARTS (50 states and the District of Columbia) than reported data using the appropriate technical specifications (5 to 40, depending on the measure). The trend for any reporting was upward for all measures but a few showed mixed trends (eg, well-child visits in the first 15 months). Finally, evidence for the effectiveness of quality improvement (QI) interventions was most compelling for increasing up-to-date status for childhood and immunizations, and highly promising for improving chlamydia screening rates. We also found some evidence supporting the use of pay for performance (along with additional QI interventions) for childhood immunizations. Although we found some promising research on QI effectiveness, for the most part we found few studies, methodologically poor studies, or mixed evidence.

       SNAC Scoring and Voting

      In both preliminary and final rounds of scoring, the 2013 SNAC considered the information provided in the measure reports and summary tables and used a modified Delphi process to score measures on the 4 criteria.
      • Mangione-Smith R.
      • Schiff J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Identifying children’s health care quality measures for Medicaid and CHIP: an evidence-informed, publicly transparent expert process.
      In each round of Delphi scoring, each SNAC member was asked to provide a score between 1 and 9 for each measure for each of the major criteria, with the number 1 representing the lowest possible score and 9 representing the highest possible score. In addition to summary scores on each measure criterion, SNAC members cast a yes or no vote on whether or not to retire each measure, based on the judgment of the SNAC member after considering all the information provided on each measure. The voting component was useful during the process of identifying the initial CCS,
      • Mangione-Smith R.
      • Schiff J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Identifying children’s health care quality measures for Medicaid and CHIP: an evidence-informed, publicly transparent expert process.
      and it functions as a way for a group to step back and consider decisions in the broader context.

       Analysis

      Before round 2, we provided the 2013 SNAC with de-identified scoring/voting summaries from round 1 including: 1) the distribution of scores on each criterion, 2) the distribution of total scores for each measure, 3) the count of individuals scoring using the Modified Delphi approach and the number who voted to recommend retirement or not, and 4) the comments made on each criterion and on the measure overall. The 2013 SNAC completed their final round of scoring, voting, and commenting by October 28, 2013. RTI analyzed the data and reported to AHRQ and CMS a range of statistics and graphic data for each measure, including box-and-whisker plots and a histogram that illustrates the distribution of total scores across SNAC members; and a summary of SNAC member comments for each criterion.

      Results

       Quantitative Findings

      As shown in Table 2,

      Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Table 1. Initial, recommended set of children’s health care quality measures. Background report on request for public comment on initial, recommended core set of Children’s Healthcare Quality Measures for voluntary use by Medicaid and CHIP programs. December 2009. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/overview/background/tables.html. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      SNAC scoring and voting resulted in a near-universal recommendation for retirement of 3 measures: children and adolescent access to primary care practitioners; appropriate testing for children with pharyngitis; and annual pediatric hemoglobin (HbA1c) testing. (For substantial additional detail, see supplemental document 3 at the AHRQ CHIPRA Web site.

      Available at: www.ahrq.gov/PQMP-supplemental-materials. Accessed August 14, 2014.

      ) The 3 measures recommended for retirement had the lowest median total scores out of the 20 measures in the final round (5.75, 5.25, and 4.75; Table 2). As also shown in Table 2, although the number of SNAC members who voted changed between the preliminary round of voting and the final round of scoring and voting, the median total score did not change substantially for any of the measures, and was identical for 7 measures in the 2 rounds. The remaining 17 measures not recommended for retirement ranked relatively high (7 to 9) for importance; median scores for scientific acceptability (5 to 8) were generally lower.

      Available at: www.ahrq.gov/PQMP-supplemental-materials. Accessed August 14, 2014.

      Table 2Summary of Rounds 1 and 2 SNAC Scoring Results and Retirement Recommendations
      MeasureTotal Score, Preliminary Round, Median (n)Total Score, Final Round, Median (n)No. of Retirement Votes, Final Round
      5.Childhood immunization status8.25 (15)8.25 (22)0
      3.Live births weighing less than 2500 g7.25 (15)7.25 (22)1
      6.Immunization status for adolescents8.25 (15)8.13 (22)1
      10.Well-child visits in the first 15 mo of life7.75 (15)7.88 (22)1
      11.Well-child visits in years 3, 4, 5, and 6 of life7.75 (15)7.88 (22)1
      20.Follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness6.75 (15)6.75 (22)1
      1.Timeliness of prenatal care6.75 (15)6.88 (22)2
      12.Adolescent well-care visits7.75 (15)7.63 (22)3
      7.Weight assessment counseling for nutrition and physical activity for children and adolescents: body mass index assessment for children/adolescents6.00 (15)6.50 (22)4
      8.Developmental screening in the first 3 y of life6.75 (15)6.75 (22)4
      2.Frequency of ongoing prenatal care6.25 (15)6.25 (22)5
      4.Cesarean rate for nulliparous singleton vertex6.75 (15)6.50 (22)5
      9.Chlamydia screening in women6.75 (15)6.50 (22)5
      18.Follow-up care for children prescribed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medication6.25 (14)6.50 (21)5
      17.Annual percentage of asthma patients with ≥1 asthma-related emergency room visits6.75 (15)6.50 (20)6
      15.Ambulatory care–emergency department visits6.25 (15)6.25 (22)7
      16.Pediatric central line–associated bloodstream infections6.00 (15)6.38 (21)8
      13.Children and adolescent access to primary care practitioners5.75 (14)5.75 (21)16
      19.Annual pediatric hemoglobin (HbA1c) testing5.50 (15)5.25 (22)19
      14.Appropriate testing for children with pharyngitis5.00 (14)4.75 (21)20
      SNAC indicates Subcommittee of the National Advisory Council on Healthcare Research and Quality.
      Returning to the full list of 20 measures considered for retirement,

      Available at: www.ahrq.gov/PQMP-supplemental-materials. Accessed August 14, 2014.

      11 scored below a 7 on feasibility, with developmental screening and HbA1c testing scoring the lowest (5.5 each). Child and adolescent immunizations scored the highest on usability (9 and 8.5, respectively) and pharyngitis the lowest (3.5).

       Qualitative Findings

      As shown in the comments sections for each measure in supplemental document 3 at the AHRQ CHIPRA Web site,

      Available at: www.ahrq.gov/PQMP-supplemental-materials. Accessed August 14, 2014.

      explanations for suggesting retirement of the measures varied but key reasons included the following: views that the well-visit measures were a better measure of access than the primary care measure; a likely ceiling effect for the pharyngitis measure; and the paucity of clinical evidence and low prevalence for HbA1c. Across all measures, many SNAC comments pertained to the importance criterion, noting as rationales for continuation in the CCS high prevalence, substantial use of services, or considerable room for improvement as demonstrated by relatively low state-reported performance rates. SNAC members also commented on troubling variations in performance across states (eg, prenatal care, low birth weight, developmental screening, adolescent immunizations, and well-child visits). With respect to scientific acceptability, concerns were expressed about the absence of measure validation studies in general, as well as specific apprehensions such as lack of risk adjustment for the low birth weight, asthma ED, and general ED measures (although these were not recommended for retirement). Other feedback noted the potentially inappropriate level of accountability for 2 measures. Specifically, SNAC members opined that hospitals rather than states should be held accountable for occurrences of neonatal central line–associated bloodstream infections. Conversely, SNAC members noted that health care providers have little control over the timeliness of prenatal care; instead, timeliness is likely controlled by states' ability to get pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP.
      With respect to usability, the potential likelihood of improvement should states act on information from the QI evidence reviews (eg, for childhood immunizations) appeared to contribute to retention decisions. However, SNAC members expressed uncertainty about improvement potential for topics such as chlamydia screening and C-section rates for nulliparous singleton vertex deliveries. Concerns about feasibility were less frequent (eg, ability to get data on prenatal care measures due to bundled payments and claims submitted after postpartum care; a low percentage of states voluntarily reporting on some measures). Finally, SNAC members also commented on additional themes not specifically attributable to the 4 criteria. For example, a SNAC member noted that the low birth weight measure is one of the few outcome measures in the set, and another SNAC member noted that chlamydia screening was the only gynecology-related measure in the CCS.

       CMS Decisions

      After the final 2013 SNAC scoring and voting, CMS retired 3 measures as part of its updates to the CCS: pharyngitis testing, annual HbA1c testing, and the asthma ED measure.

      Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 2014 updates to the child and adult core health care quality measurement sets. CMCS informational bulletin. December 19, 2013. Available at: http://medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/Downloads/CIB-12-19-13.pdf. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      CMS recommended retiring the asthma measure as a result of a lack of an available measure steward.

      Discussion

      We used a systematic multistakeholder-engaged process to consider carefully 20 child health care quality measures for potential retirement from the CCS of measures for voluntary state Medicaid/CHIP use. The close correspondence between levels of Delphi scores and numbers of retirement votes suggests that the process was largely evidence based. CMS accepted 2 out of 3 SNAC recommendations for its January 2014 CCS update, fulfilling a legislative requirement.
      Ours appears to be the first published detailed accounting of an evidence- and stakeholder-informed systematic process for considering measure retirement. Although many of the criteria for retirement are identical to those for measure acceptance or endorsement, considerations for retirement require additional information. Examples include data on the measure collection and reporting experiences of Medicaid/CHIP programs (relevant to assessments of feasibility), performance on the measures (relevant to a component of importance), additional tests of measure validity, and use of the data as stimuli for QI interventions.
      Deliberations of the 2013 SNAC were somewhat limited by the paucity or inadequacies of key data sources. For example, the MAX data date from 2009 and come primarily from fee-for-service claims, even though 64% of children enrolled in Medicaid get care through managed care plans.

      Sebelius K. The Department of Health and Human Services 2013 annual report on the quality of care for children in Medicaid and CHIP. Available at: http://medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Quality-of-Care/Downloads/2013-Ann-Sec-Rept.pdf. Accessed December 14, 2013.

      Therefore, prevalence, utilization, and cost data available to the SNAC were not current. CMS is working to improve its ability to more quickly collect, clean, and report Medicaid data to interested communities.

      Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. SMD 13–004—Re: Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS) data. State Medicaid Director letters. August 23, 2013. Available at: http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/Downloads/SMD-13-004.pdf. Accessed June 4, 2014.

      The main advantage of MAX is its detail on Medicaid/CHIP. In addition, because MAX includes enrollment data, we could provide some information on variations in the numbers of children potentially affected by a measure by race and Hispanic ethnicity. A limitation of our study and of the field of quality measurement is the absence of measure validation studies. NCQA generously provided new information about measure reliability (for confidential 2013 SNAC purposes only) but told us that resources are generally not available for validation studies (Sarah Scholle, personal communication). Searches to inform potential changes in evidence grades were also limited; there is a paucity of rigorous studies of the effectiveness of much of routine health care, including health care for children.
      • Melnyk B.
      • Grossman D.
      • et al.
      USPSTF perspective on evidence-based preventive recommendations for children.
      • Springer S.
      • Silverstein J.
      • Copeland K.
      • et al.
      Management of type 2 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents.
      The pediatric QI literature is limited,
      • McCormick M.
      • Co J.
      • Dougherty D.
      Quality improvement in pediatric health care: introduction to the supplement.
      and we found very few studies of payment reform and health information technology in children's health care despite considerable excitement about the potential for these strategies to improve quality. Given how quickly we were required to do literature searches for and reviews of the effectiveness of clinical and QI interventions, we had to rely more heavily on expert opinion than may be ideal.

      Institute of Medicine. Finding what works in health care: standards for systematic reviews. March 2011. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/reports/2011/finding-what-works-in-health-care-standards-for-systematic-reviews.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      Finally, the information we were able to gather on state activities to improve performance on measure topics was deemed too general to be useful as an indicator of measure usability.
      With quality measurement here to stay, it is essential to find ways to thoughtfully and comprehensively consider the breadth, depth, and evidence base for quality measures across quality domains, age groups, settings, and other foci.

      Institute of Medicine. Child and adolescent health and health care quality: measuring what matters. April 25, 2011. Available at: http://iom.edu/Reports/2011/Child-and-Adolescent-Health-and-Health-Care-Quality.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      National Quality Forum. Measure applications partnership. Available at: http://www.qualityforum.org/map/. Accessed June 13, 2014.

      Periodic consideration of measures for potential retirement is one approach, but it may not always be able to include reflection on the full scope of potentially better measures or take the most systematic approach to gathering and reviewing evidence.

      Conclusions

      As part of a life-cycle approach to quality measurement, careful and systematic periodic reexamination of measures for the purpose of retirement is highly recommended for measures that are in widespread use. Revisiting measures for potential retirement is an essential component of generating and maintaining interest in children's health care quality measurement and leading toward true improvement. The expected remaining duration of a child's life compared to any adult's means that high quality care can provide substantial returns on investment.
      • Dougherty D.
      • Chen X.
      • Gray D.T.
      Children and adolescent health care quality and disparities: are we making progress?.
      When resources for the measurement and improvement of children's health care are available, they should be used wisely. In settings where resources are scarce and the populations vulnerable, it is critical that we measure what matters.

      Acknowledgments

      We especially acknowledge the contributions of the 2013 SNAC and Research Triangle International. The views expressed in this article represent those of the authors only, and do not necessarily represent those of the US Department of Health and Human Services or its components, the AHRQ or the CMS.

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