The Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs) are a set of measures that can be used with hospital inpatient discharge data to identify quality of care for "ambulatory care sensitive conditions." These are conditions for which good outpatient care can potentially prevent the need for hospitalization or for which early intervention can prevent complications or more severe disease. The PQIs are population based and adjusted for covariates.
Even though these indicators are based on hospital inpatient data, they provide insight into the community health care system or services outside the hospital setting. For example, patients with diabetes may be hospitalized for diabetic complications if their conditions are not adequately monitored or if they do not receive the patient education needed for appropriate self-management.
The PQIs can be used as a "screening tool" to help flag potential health care quality problem areas that need further investigation; provide a quick check on primary care access or outpatient services in a community by using patient data found in a typical hospital discharge abstract; and, help public health agencies, State data organizations, health care systems, and others interested in improving health care quality in their communities.
With high-quality, community-based primary care, hospitalization for these illnesses often can be avoided. Although other factors outside the direct control of the health care system, such as poor environmental conditions or lack of patient adherence to treatment recommendations, can result in hospitalization, the PQIs provide a good starting point for assessing quality of health services in the community. Because the PQIs are calculated using readily available hospital administrative data, they are an easy-to-use and inexpensive screening tool. They can be used to provide a window into the community — to identify unmet community health care needs, to monitor how well complications from a number of common conditions are being avoided in the outpatient setting, and to compare performance of local health care systems across communities.