Quality measurement has achieved a powerful momentum across the spectrum of healthcare, driven primarily by the search for strategies to contain rapidly rising healthcare costs without sacrificing quality of care. Because pharmaceutical care is involved in almost all elements of healthcare, it is subject to the general impact of quality measurement on the healthcare system as well as quality measurements of pharmaceutical care. The assumption that measuring quality improves the processes and outcomes of care lies behind the drive for quality measurement, but this assumption remains largely untested. Whether the assumption is true depends upon the attributes of measures (importance, perspective, reliability, validity and responsiveness), the quality of the data used, and how and by whom the measures are collected, interpreted and used. Focusing attention on aspects of care that get measured may 'crowd out' attention on equally important, but unmeasured elements and may not contribute to allocative efficiency. Successfully turning quality measurement into quality improvement in pharmaceutical care will require two essential elements: continued research to develop, refine and update measures of quality, and education in how to use them.
Copyright 2002 Adis International