Clinical Quality Measures: A Challenge for-and to-Family Physicians

Alan Drabkin, Ronald N. Adler, Wayne Altman, Alan M. Ehrlich, Alicia Agnoli, Brian S. Alper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Improving design, selection and implementation of appropriate clinical quality measures can reduce harms and costs of health care and improve the quality and experience of care delivery. These measures have not been evaluated for appropriateness for use in performance measurement in a systematic, reproducible, and widely accepted manner. METHODS: We defined 10 criteria for evaluation of measure appropriateness in 4 domains: Patient-centeredness of outcomes, specification of population measured and measure detail, reliable evidence that benefits likely outweigh harms, and independence from significant confounders. We applied these criteria to 24 measures under consideration for statewide use in Massachusetts in public and private incentive-based programs. We appraised each measure as Appropriate or Not Appropriate for such use. RESULTS: We rated 15 measures as Appropriate (62.5%). Three measures (12.5%) were considered Appropriate only if applied at a system level but not for patient-provider assessment and 6 measures (25%) were rated Not Appropriate. Reasons for designation as "Not Appropriate" included benefits not clearly outweighing harms, lack of preservation of patient autonomy, inappropriate specification of population and measure detail, confounding by locus of control, and confounding by social determinants of health. CONCLUSIONS: Using this consensus-driven, 10-criteria methodology we were able to evaluate appropriateness of clinical quality measures. This methodology may improve measure design and inform selection of the most appropriate measures for use in quality measurement, financial incentives, and reporting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-434
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Family Medicine
  • Massachusetts
  • Pay for Performance
  • Quality of Health Care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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