APA Council adopts criteria for evaluating quality improvement programs

New APA policy responds to the rapid growth of pay-for-performance and other programs in the private and public health care sectors

by Practice Directorate Executive Office Staff

August 28, 2008 — The American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives adopted Criteria for the Evaluation of Quality Improvement Programs and the Use of Quality Improvement Data at the 2008 APA Convention in Boston. The new APA policy supports efforts to ensure the delivery of high-quality psychological and other health care services to the public.

An expert advisory group crafted the Criteria in light of the rapid growth of pay-for-performance (PFP) and other quality improvement programs (QIPs) in the private and public health care sectors. QIPs systematically collect information from health care providers or patients with the intention of drawing conclusions about quality of care in order to improve provider performance, outcome or efficiency. PFP programs are a type of QIP that use performance or outcomes measurement to determine the amounts paid for health care services.

Driven by health care economics, QIPs are part of a growing trend toward greater provider accountability for outcomes. The Criteria were developed to help psychologists evaluate QIPs and to provide a framework for the creation of well-designed programs that protect patients' rights and respect the professional responsibilities of psychologists. Psychologists' involvement in program design and implementation can have a positive impact on the evolution of QIPs.

The APA Criteria also provide policy guidance for advocacy efforts in this area. Several concerns related to patient care and protection are addressed, including maintaining confidentiality of data and assuring access to care for patients with complex and/or chronic conditions.