Standardization of Indicators

When comparing organizations or providers, it is essential that the information on quality indicators be collected in a standardized way so that comparisons between indicators are not due to differences in measurement methodology. Standardization is meant to assure comparability between units so that differences can be correctly attributed to differences in the quality of care and not to differences in methodology. Initially, it was believed that standardization would also allow for monitoring trends in quality. However, as measurement methods and data quality improve, they become incomparable over time. That is, the price of better data is inability to compare over time.

Standardization is often achieved by providing specific rules for data collection and reporting and by developing protocols for collecting data for the measures. The next section provides a detailed example of how HEDIS has attempted to standardize its measures of quality.

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