Purpose: To identify current and future relevant quality measures for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs).
Methods: Three criteria (patient volume, internal usefulness for quality improvement, and external usefulness for public reporting and payment reform) were used to analyze quality measures for their relevance for CAHs. A 6-member panel with expertise in rural hospital quality measurement and improvement provided input regarding the final measure selection.
Findings: The relevant quality measures for CAHs include measures that are ready for reporting now and measures that need specifications to be finalized and/or a data reporting mechanism to be established. They include inpatient measures for specific medical conditions, global measures that address appropriate care across multiple medical conditions, and Emergency Department measures.
Conclusions: All CAHs should publicly report on relevant quality measures. Acceptance of a single consolidated set of quality measures with common specifications for CAHs by all entities involved in regulation, accreditation, and payment; a phased process to implement the relevant measures; and the provision of technical assistance would help CAHs meet the challenge of reporting.