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Center plays role in Medicare effort

April 10, 2007

ASU's Center for Health Information and Research (CHIR) is playing a major role in a national effort to improve the quality of services for Medicare patients.

The center recently was awarded a contract by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to be a partner in the Better Quality Information to Improve Care for Medicare Beneficiaries (BQI) Project.

The project involves gathering data about care being delivered by physicians through the program, with the goals of developing better ways to measure the effectiveness of health care and enabling patients to make more informed choices in physician selection and treatment options.

The center will analyze a comprehensive set of data about care delivered under the program, as well as compile assessments of care by those delivering and using Medicare services.

CHIR also is working on data collection in Arizona in a companion project in collaboration with the Phoenix Healthcare Value Measurement Initiative sponsored by a coalition of employers, insurers and health care providers in cooperation with St. Luke's Health Initiatives.

“These two projects put Arizona and ASU in the forefront of efforts to develop accurate and objective measures of health care outcomes that are acceptable to patients, payers and health care professionals,” says CHIR director William G. Johnson.

CHIR is a part of the School of Computing and Informatics in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU. It is the only university-based organization in the country participating in the BQI Project.

The center joins other regional BQI Project collaboratives announced earlier by CMS, including those in California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin .

CHIR maintains a “data warehouse,” called Arizona HealthQuery, or AZHQ, which contains health care-related information on more than eight million people for about 60 voluntary data partners throughout Arizona. Those partners range from physician groups to large self-insured employers and major public insurance systems such as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona's Medicaid program.