Everybody is for ''High-Quality Care,'' But What Exactly is it?

American Heart Association Conference on Quality of Care: A Focus on Measuring Quality

In 1999, the American Heart Association sponsored the first in a series of annual conferences on measuring quality of care in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

While all parts of the health system agree on the importance of high-quality care, the development of performance measures has not been a mainstream activity of the medical profession. In the cardiovascular field, there is a notable absence of consensus measures.

The American Heart Association sponsored the first in a series of annual conferences on measuring quality of care in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

A steering committee (see the Appendix) chaired by Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D., associate professor of medicine (cardiology), epidemiology, and public health at Yale University, planned the conference.

Planners organized working groups to address acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and stroke as well as methodological issues. In addition to reports made by the working groups, the program included sessions devoted to:

  • Selected Initiatives to Measure Quality of Care
  • Measurement Issues in Structure and Process
  • Measurement Issues in Outcome
  • Interpreting Data on Quality
  • Perspectives on Quality Measurement and Improvement

A report on the conference proceedings — Measuring and Improving Quality of Care: A Report from the American Heart Association / American College of Cardiology First Scientific Forum on Assessment of Healthcare Quality in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke — was published in two AHA journals (namely Circulation and Stroke) and made available online.

The report includes a list of five basic principles for selecting performance measures and an outline of the research priorities set by the three working groups.

The conference's congestive heart failure working group, chaired by Dr. Krumholz, issued a separate online report, Evaluating Quality of Care for Patients with Heart Failure, which is available online. (See the Bibliography for details.)

Key Results

  • The conference — entitled "Scientific Forum on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Quality of Care and Outcomes Research" — took place May 24–26, 1999, in San Diego, Calif. The conference focused on quality assessment in three areas:
    • Acute myocardial infarction
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Stroke

    Conference proceedings are available online.

The second annual quality-of-care forum took place April 9 to 11, 2000, in Washington. The third forum is planned for September 30 to October 1, 2001.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project through a grant of $30,000.

Additional funding for the first annual conference came from:

  • American Heart Association, $32,000
  • American College of Cardiology, $30,000
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., $55,000
  • Campbell Soup Co., $30,000
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs, $30,000

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