Regular Article

The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 25-39

Does Meeting the HEDIS Substance Abuse Treatment Engagement Criterion Predict Patient Outcomes?

  • Alex HS HarrisAffiliated withCenter for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Keith HumphreysAffiliated withCenter for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Thomas BoweAffiliated withCenter for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Quyen TietAffiliated withCenter for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , John W. FinneyAffiliated withCenter for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine

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Abstract

This study examines the patient-level associations between the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS) substance use disorder (SUD) treatment engagement quality indicator and improvements in clinical outcomes. Administrative and survey data from 2,789 US Department of Veterans Affairs SUD patients were used to estimate the effects of meeting the HEDIS engagement criterion on improvements in Addiction Severity Index Alcohol, Drug, and Legal composite scores. Patients meeting the engagement indicator improved significantly more in all domains than patients who did not engage, and the relationship was stronger for alcohol and legal outcomes for patients seen in outpatient settings. The benefit accrued by those who engaged was statistically significant but clinically modest. These results add to the literature documenting the clinical benefits of treatment entry and engagement. Although these findings only indirectly support the use of the HEDIS engagement measure for its intended purpose—discriminating quality at the facility or system level—they confirm that the processes of care captured by the measure are associated with important patient outcomes.

Keywords

health care delivery substance abuse services veterans performance measures standards of quality HEDIS