Quality Metrics in Kidney Transplantation: Current Landscape, Trials and Tribulations, Lessons Learned, and a Call for Reform

Am J Kidney Dis. 2019 Sep;74(3):382-389. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2019.02.020. Epub 2019 Apr 23.


Quality metrics have a long history in the field of kidney transplantation. These metrics are highly visible, with significant ramifications to transplantation centers based on their use in regulatory review and other stakeholders. In this perspective, we review the history of quality metrics in this field, discuss the perceptions and empirical evidence evaluating the impact of metrics on care delivery, and summarize the current landscape of quality oversight. Based on the research findings and opinions of the transplantation community, we suggest that significant reforms are needed for the evaluation of quality in the field based on more appropriately aligning metrics with optimizing patient outcomes. Moreover, there are vast potential uses of the current data that should be emphasized in a learning environment rather than a highly punitive system. In our view, these reforms would enhance care delivery, improve patient care, and better align incentives for providers of care that treat transplantation patients.

Keywords: Kidney transplantation; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); health care policy; health care quality; payment policy; perverse incentive; quality metrics; regulatory oversight; transplant outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking* / methods
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / standards*
  • Quality Improvement