Background: Medicare has proposed quality-of-care indicators for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The extent to which these standards are met in practice is largely unknown.
Objective: To evaluate the quality of health care that patients with HCV receive and the factors associated with receipt of quality care.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Nationwide U.S. health insurance company research database.
Participants: 10Â 385 patients with HCV enrolled in the database between 2003 and 2006. Patients were included if they were eligible for at least 1 quality indicator.
Measurements: Quality of HCV care received by patients, as measured by 7 explicit quality indicators included in Medicare's 2009 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative.
Results: Proportions of patients meeting quality indicators varied, ranging from 21.5% for vaccination to 79% for the HCV genotype testing indicator. Overall, 18.5% of patients (95% CI, 18% to 19%) received all recommended care. Older age and presence of comorbid conditions were associated with lower quality, whereas elevated liver enzyme levels, cirrhosis, and HIV infection were associated with higher quality. Patients who saw both generalists and specialists received the best care (odds ratio of receiving care for which a patient is eligible: specialists alone, 0.79 [CI, 0.66 to 0.95]; primary care physician alone, 0.44 [CI, 0.40 to 0.48]).
Limitations: The study had an observational retrospective design, used a convenience sample, and had no information on patient ethnicity. It may be that the indicators or the reporting of the indicators of HCV careâ€”and not the care itselfâ€”is suboptimum.
Conclusion: Health care quality, based on Medicare criteria, is suboptimum for HCV. Care that included both specialists and generalists is associated with the best quality. Our results support the development of specialist and primary care collaboration to improve the quality of HCV care.
Primary Funding Source: Saint Louis University Liver Center.