What is a Quality Measure?
A standardized assessment which quantifies the extent to which an individual
unit within a population (person in a clinic, individual clinic amongst all
clinics in a region) meets some criterion for quality of care.1
A measurement tool, screen or flag that is used as a guide to monitor, evaluate
and improve the quality of client care, clinical support services and organizational
functions that affect outcomes.2
Why Use Quality Measures in Primary Mental Health Care?
Most people with mental health problems are seen in primary health care (PHC)
settings. Significant gaps exist between research evidence and mental health
care in PHC and other settings. CEQM was intended to help address this care
gap through building consensus regarding a set of quality measures that are
“It’s hard to improve what you can’t measure”
Without consistent quality measurement systems in place to assess the impact
of system reform, applying any lessons learned will be difficult. The creation
of a nationally agreed upon set of quality measures is one way to assess the
impact of the considerable improvement efforts already underway.
A flashlight in a dark room
The current challenge of embarking upon quality measurement work in health
care has been compared to attempting to navigate a large, dark room with only
a flashlight to illuminate one’s way. One must chose where to focus the
light in order to navigate the room effectively and safely. Similarly, with
health quality measurement, no current set of ideal measures exist that will
allow us to have a full understanding of the whole system.
The CEQM project is designed to help Canadians focus their improvement efforts
through building national consensus around a small set of quality measures.
1. Adapted from: http://www.qualitymeasures.ahrq.gov/resources/measure_use.aspx and Charlwood, P. et al. (1999). Outcome indicators: severe mental illness.
Report of a Working Group. London: Department of Health
2. Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation. A Guide to the Development
and Use of Performance Indicators, Ottawa, 1996.
v 3 Sep 1, 2006
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