Prevention is an important role for all health care providers. Providers can help individuals stay healthy by preventing disease, and they can prevent complications of existing disease by helping patients live with their illnesses. To fulfill this role, however, providers need data on the impact of their services and the opportunity to compare these data over time or across communities. Local, State, and Federal policymakers also need these tools and data to identify potential access or quality-of-care problems related to prevention, to plan specific interventions, and to evaluate how well these interventions meet the goals of preventing illness and disability.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs) represent one such tool. Local, State, or national data collected using the PQIs can flag potential problems resulting from a breakdown of health care services by tracking hospitalizations for conditions that should be treatable on an outpatient basis, or that could be less severe if treated early and appropriately. The PQIs represent the current state of the art in measuring the outcomes of preventive and outpatient care through analysis of inpatient discharge data.