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Ann Intern Med. 1997 Oct 15;127(8 Pt 2):739-42.

Feasibility and utility of adding disease-specific outcome measures to administrative databases to improve disease management.

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Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


To increase the utility of administrative databases, it has been recommended that they include disease-specific, patient-centered outcome measures. This paper reviews practical and theoretical considerations and the critical evidence to support this recommendation. The strengths and weaknesses of the recommended approach are illustrated by examples of disease-specific measures for arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases. Current experience suggests that routine capture of these measures in administrative databases has formidable practical problems and would be unlikely to affect patient care. They could be used as gross indicators of a population's experience but would be insensitive to clinically meaningful improvement on the level of the individual patient. By themselves, these measures are unlikely to identify actionable strategies to improve outcomes, but they could improve efficiency. Overall, implementing this type of disease management improvement strategy would have little value in direct patient care and would be costly.

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