Clinical Performance Measures for Adults Hospitalized With Acute Ischemic Stroke
Performance Measures for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association
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To work toward the goal of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) have developed a multifaceted strategy for improving the quality of care for stroke. A key feature of this strategy is the development of professional guidelines for evidence-based stroke care. Recommendations are provided for acute management, primary and secondary prevention, rehabilitation, stroke systems of care, and other domains of stroke care.1–4 The strength of the evidence supporting these recommendations is given, according to a specified grading system. For many aspects of care, there is widespread consensus that the intervention is beneficial, usually supported by strong scientific evidence including randomized controlled trials.
Professional guidelines improve the delivery of evidence-based care; however, despite these guidelines, gaps between best evidence-based practice and actual practice persist.5 To close these gaps in quality of care, several organizations have developed systems to allow practitioners and healthcare organizations such as hospitals to quantify the quality of their care through performance measures. A performance measure is defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as a “mechanism for assessing the degree to which a provider competently and safely delivers the appropriate clinical services to the patient within the optimal time period.”6 The AHA and American College of Cardiology Foundation have additionally suggested that performance measures should be based on the highest level of supportive evidence and have the greatest impact on health outcomes.7 Performance measures, in addition to supporting quality improvement activities, are specifically suitable for public reporting, external comparisons, and possibly pay-for-performance programs.
As steward of the professional guidelines for stroke care, with a large group of volunteer expert clinicians with expertise in guideline creation and performance measurement, the AHA/ASA is uniquely positioned to develop high-quality …