Quality of care for chronic illness in primary care: opportunity for improvement in process and outcome measures

Am J Manag Care. 1999 May;5(5):621-7.


Objective: To describe adherence to a number of quality indicators and clinical outcomes for asthma, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and cerebrovascular disease in the primary care practices of the Practice Partner Research Network (PPRNet).

Study design: Cross-sectional epidemiologic design.

Patients and methods: PPRNet is a national research network of ambulatory, mostly primary care practices that use the Practice Partner Patient Records electronic medical records. Participating practices send anonymous clinical data on patients to the PPRNet data center monthly. Standard database management and statistical software are used to compile practice reports. These reports include measures of adherence to process and outcome measures for chronic illnesses, the subject of this report.

Results: Forty-eight PPRNet practices provided data for the first quarter of 1998. A total of 336,401 patients were active in these practices during this quarter. At least 2000 active patients had each of the conditions studied. Wide variation in guideline adherence among PPRNet practices was present for each of the performance measures. Better performance was present for physical examination measures and laboratory monitoring than for treatment interventions. Overall performance was excellent for blood pressure monitoring, poor for lipid monitoring in patients with CHD, and intermediate for glycosylated hemoglobin monitoring in patients with diabetes mellitus.

Conclusion: The findings of this study are comparable to others in documenting that most clinical practice guidelines for chronic illness are not followed for a majority of patients and that large majorities do not reach desired clinical outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / therapy
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / therapy
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Coronary Disease / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Medical Audit / methods
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • United States