New Measures to Gauge the Quality of Mammography Centers

Study to determine standardized measures that define quality mammography centers

During 2002 and 2003, researchers at the National Quality Forum were asked to facilitate the identification of topics for performance measure development useful for the consumer in selecting mammography centers. The project was designed as the preliminary phase of a study that would test the assumption that consumers will act on quality information to select better care, thus stimulating providers to compete by improving quality. However, in part because of results from this phase of the project, the larger study was never carried out.

The National Quality Forum is a private, nonprofit, open membership corporation established in 1999 for the primary purpose of developing standardized measures and reporting mechanisms to facilitate and support health care quality improvement.

Key Results:

  • The project team identified six measures for further development that define quality mammography centers, focusing on the following topics:
    • Certification status.
    • Average turnaround time for reporting results.
    • Patient experience with care based on a standardized satisfaction survey.
    • Percentage of false-positive rates.
    • Percentage of false-negative rates.
    • Percentage of screening mammograms performed compared to all radiological procedures performed or as a percentage of all mammograms performed (screening and diagnostic) if at a comprehensive breast clinic.

Key Conclusions:

  • There is a need for more heightened awareness among consumers and their primary care providers on the variation in quality of prevention/screening procedures.
  • In order to study how performance measurement data might alter the marketplace, it will be important to include a more fully diverse cross section of women, especially those with disabilities, as part of the discussion on consumer use of performance measures.
  • The potential measures identified in this project may require a level of data retrieval and coordination that is not consistently available across local, state or regional areas.

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