NU Online News Service, Feb. 27, 2004, 12:24 p.m. EST – The National Committee for Quality Assurance, Washington, is updating its set of plan quality indicators.[@@]

The nonprofit group has released a draft of the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set 5.0, better known as HEDIS 5.0, for public comment.

The NCQA says it may add an indicator for overuse of high-cost imaging studies in lower back pain.

Some research has suggested that X-ray studies and other imaging studies provide little useful information about ordinary lower back pain, the NCQA says.

The group also wants to add indicators for persistence in use of beta blocker treatment after a heart attack; use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy in rheumatoid arthritis; use of glaucoma screening in older adults; and efforts to remind older adults of the importance of physical activity.

The NCQA wants to cut measures for the average length of hospital stay for newborns and their mothers.

Other indicators on the chopping block include indicators for the cesarean section rate, the vaginal birth after cesarean section rate and menopause management programs.

The length-of-stay indicators appear to provide little useful information about the quality of care, and the current c-section indicators do a poor job of separating results for c-sections that appear to be medically necessary from results for c-sections that appear to be unnecessary, the NCQA says.

More information about HEDIS 5.0 is on the Web at http://www.ncqa.org/Programs/HEDIS/HEDIS2004PubComment.htm