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January 2015

Conceptualizing Administrative Databases as Screening Tools for Health System Quality: Rethinking the Issue of Data Accuracy

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston
  • 2Department of Surgery, University of California, San Diego
  • 3School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego
  • 4Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, State of California, Sacramento
JAMA Surg. 2015;150(1):5-6. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.1352

More than a decade has passed since the Institute of Medicine released the Crossing the Quality Chasm report, highlighting the challenges in health care–quality improvements.1 The proposals outlined by this report have extensive data needs. Given the ubiquitous nature of administrative databases that are already being generated from hospital billings, these databases have formed the backbone of many current health care policies such as the transparency initiatives by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services through the Hospital Compare website, the development of Patient Safety Indicators by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,2 and the pay-for-performance policy related to hospital readmissions.3 In addition to patient demographic data, these databases capture diagnosis and procedure codes associated with patient care and some basic outcome information on discharge.

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