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Adjusting for Patient Economic/Access Issues in a Hypertension Quality Measure

      Introduction

      The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology have proposed adjusting hypertension-related care quality measures by excluding patients with economic/access issues from the denominator of rate calculations. No research to date has explored the methods to operationalize this recommendation or how to measure economic/access issues. This study applied and compared different approaches to populating these denominator exceptions.

      Methods

      Electronic health record data from 2019 were used in 2021 to calculate hypertension control rates in 84 community health centers. A total of 10 different indicators of patient economic/access barriers to care were used as denominator exclusions to calculate and then compare adjusted quality measure performance. Data came from a nonprofit health center‒controlled network that hosts a shared electronic health record for community health centers located in 22 states.

      Results

      A total of 5 of 10 measures yielded an increase in adjusted hypertension control rates in ≥50% of clinics (average rate increases of 0.7–3.71 percentage points). A total of 3 of 10 measures yielded a decrease in adjusted hypertension control rates in >50% of clinics (average rate decreases of 1.33–13.82 percentage points). A total of 5 measures resulted in excluding >50% of the clinic's patient population from quality measure assessments.

      Conclusions

      Changes in clinic-level hypertension control rates after adjustment differed depending on the measure of economic/access issue. Regardless of the exclusion method, changes between baseline and adjusted rates were small. Removing community health center patients experiencing economic/access barriers from a hypertension control quality measure resulted in excluding a large proportion of patients, raising concerns about whether this calculation can be a meaningful measure of clinical performance.
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