Improving the Quality of Long Term Care

Publicly reporting information stimulates providers' efforts to improve the quality of health care. The availability of mandated, uniform clinical data in all nursing homes and home health agencies has facilitated the public reporting of comparative quality data. This article reviews the conceptual and technical challenges of applying information about the quality of long-term care providers and the evidence for the impact of information-based quality improvement. Quality “tools” have been used despite questions about the validity of the measures and their use in selecting providers or offering them bonus payments. Although the industry now realizes the importance of quality, research still is needed on how consumers use this information to select providers and monitor their performance and whether these efforts actually improve the outcomes of care.