SOURCE: National Committee for Quality Assurance

National Committee for Quality Assurance

February 18, 2009 10:29 ET

New Quality Measure Assessing Aspirin Use to Prevent Cardiovascular Events Added to HEDIS 2010

Preventive Measure Could Save up to 45,000 Lives Annually; Public Comment Through March 17

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - February 18, 2009) - The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has proposed a new measure focused on the use of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular events. The new Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) measure, released today for public comment, will also evaluate communication between patients and health care providers about appropriate aspirin use.

"Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of premature death in the U.S., which makes our underuse of effective preventive care especially important. Aspirin has been shown to prevent heart attacks in many at risk, so every patient who should be taking it but isn't is an opportunity for improvement," said NCQA Executive Vice President L. Gregory Pawlson, M.D., M.P.H. "That's why NCQA worked with experts and clinicians to create this new measure to gauge our progress in addressing this gap in care."

A 2006 study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found aspirin to be one of the three most clinically- and cost-effective preventative services. Partnership for Prevention, an organization that advocates for the use of policies and practices that help to prevent disease and promote health, estimates that 45,000 additional lives could be saved annually if at least 90 percent of Americans consistently use aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular events.

Four HEDIS measures have been re-evaluated and are open to public comment. These measures include:

--  Colorectal Cancer Screening
--  Appropriate Treatment for Children with Upper Respiratory Infection
--  Use of Appropriate Medications for People With Asthma
--  Medical Assistance with Smoking Cessation

HEDIS measures are used to evaluate performance of health care organizations and providers on important dimensions of care and service. Used by more than 90 percent of America's health plans, HEDIS makes it possible to compare the performance of health plans, and forms the basis for NCQA Accreditation and a wide range of evaluations of health care quality.

The proposed aspirin use measure will be collected through the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey -- a survey administered by NCQA-certified vendors to evaluate patients' experience related to the quality of health care. CAHPS is overseen by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Members of the public are invited to comment on the measures through March 17. Details and instructions are available on NCQA's Web site at Public comment will inform the final version of the measures to be presented to NCQA's Committee on Performance Measurement and Board of Directors. Final measures will be released this summer. Data for the new HEDIS measure assessing aspirin use will be collected in 2009, but not publicly reported until 2010.

NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA evaluates, accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and recognizes physicians in key clinical areas. NCQA's Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care, protecting the lives of more than 100 million Americans. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information through the Web, media and data licensing agreements in order to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.