Both commonly used measures of care quality—measuring either the number of prescriptions for medications to control asthma submitted within 1 year among patients who had persistent asthma in the previous year [called the Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS)] or the ratio between the number of prescriptions submitted for asthma-controlling medications and the total number of prescriptions filled for any medications—result in lower odds of ED utilization, according to a study out of Massachusetts.

Investigators also compared the odds ratios, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves, and deviances between models, using each measure to predict ED utilization in Medicaid populations, finding that the controller medication measure of asthma care quality may be better than the ratio measure in relation to emergency asthma care utilization by Medicaid beneficiaries.

"The unique characteristics of Medicaid beneficiaries along with this study’s findings, suggest that we cannot assume that asthma care quality measures perform equally well in commercial and Medicaid populations," the authors write.

They also report that, of the two measures used, HEDIS was more sensitive, had a greater area under the receiver operating characteristics curve, and showed smaller data deviances than measures generating a ratio between asthma-controlling and total prescriptions.