• Case-mix adjustment;
  • patients' experiences of care;
  • community health centers

Objective. To assess the effect of case-mix adjustment on community health center (CHC) performance on patient experience measures.

Data Sources. A Medicaid-managed care plan in Washington State collected patient survey data from 33 CHCs over three fiscal quarters during 2007–2008. The survey included three composite patient experience measures (6-month reports) and two overall ratings of care. The analytic sample includes 2,247 adult patients and 2,859 adults reporting for child patients.

Study Design. We compared the relative importance of patient case-mix adjusters by calculating each adjuster's predictive power and variability across CHCs. We then evaluated the impact of case-mix adjustment on the relative ranking of CHCs.

Principal Findings. Important case-mix adjusters included adult self-reported health status or parent-reported child health status, adult age, and educational attainment. The effects of case-mix adjustment on patient reports and ratings were different in the adult and child samples. Adjusting for race/ethnicity and language had a greater impact on parent reports than adult reports, but it impacted ratings similarly across the samples. The impact of adjustment on composites and ratings was modest, but it affected the relative ranking of CHCs.

Conclusions. To ensure equitable comparison of CHC performance on patient experience measures, reports and ratings should be adjusted for adult self-reported health status or parent-reported child health status, adult age, education, race/ethnicity, and survey language. Because of the differential impact of case-mix adjusters for child and adult surveys, initiatives should consider measuring and reporting adult and child scores separately.