Monitoring Community Pharmacist's Quality of Care: A feasibility study of using pharmacy claims data to assess performance

Nancy Winslade*, Laurel Taylor, Sherry Shi, Lambert Schuwirth, Cees Van der Vleuten, Robyn Tamblyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Public pressure has increasingly emphasized the need to ensure the continuing quality of care provided by health professionals over their careers. Health profession's regulatory authorities, mandated to be publicly accountable for safe and effective care, are revising their quality assurance programs to focus on regular evaluations of practitioner performance. New methods for routine screening of performance are required and the use of administrative data for measuring performance on quality of care indicators has been suggested as one attractive option. Preliminary studies have shown that community pharmacy claims databases contain the information required to operationalize quality of care indicators. The purpose of this project was to determine the feasibility of routine use of information from these databases by regulatory authorities to screen the quality of care provided at community pharmacies. Methods: Information from the Canadian province of Quebec's medication insurance program provided data on prescriptions dispensed in 2002 by more than 5000 pharmacists in 1799 community pharmacies. Pharmacy-specific performance rates were calculated on four quality of care indicators: two safety indicators (dispensing of contraindicated benzodiazepines to seniors and dispensing of nonselective beta-blockers to patients with respiratory disease) and two effectiveness indicators (dispensing asthma or hypertension medications to non-compliant patients). Descriptive statistics were used to summarize performance. Results: Reliable estimates of performance could be obtained for more than 90% of pharmacies. The average rate of dispensing was 4.3% (range 0 - 42.5%) for contra-indicated benzodiazepines, 15.2% (range 0 - 100%) for nonselective beta-blockers to respiratory patients, 10.7% (range 0 - 70%) for hypertension medications to noncompliant patients, and 43.3% (0 - 91.6%) for short-acting beta-agonists in over-use situations. There were modest correlations in performance across the four indicators. Nine pharmacies (0.5%) performed in the lowest quartile in all four of the indicators, and 5.3% (n = 95) performed in the lowest quartile on three of four indicators. Conclusions: Routinely collected pharmacy claims data can be used to monitor indicators of the quality of care provided in community pharmacies, and may be useful in future to identify underperforming pharmacists, measure the impact of policy changes and determine predictors of best practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2011


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