New Website Highlights Health Plans Leading in Appropriate Antibiotic Use

Effort intended to provide insights that improve prescribing and combat resistance

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New Website Highlights Health Plans Leading in Appropriate Antibiotic Use
A female doctor talking with a patient sitting on a stretcher.
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The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has launched a website that highlights health plans that are high performers in appropriate antibiotic use. The new program is part of NCQA’s ongoing efforts to track and improve antibiotic prescribing. NCQA analyzed data from its Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) to identify health plans that are in or above the 85th percentile for appropriate prescribing in the United States.

NCQA, a nonprofit organization focused on improving health care quality, designed the program with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. The website, which went live Sept. 30, seeks to help health plans identify and share best practices that support clinicians in optimizing their use of antibiotics and to encourage integration of those practices into antibiotic stewardship efforts .

Such steps are critical to preserving the effectiveness of life-saving antibiotics and slowing the spread of antibiotic resistance. Improved prescribing, facilitated via stewardship and other quality improvement programs, ensures that patients get the right type of care at the right time, which helps extend the efficacy of available antibiotics and slows the emergence of drug-resistant “superbugs”—a steadily growing health crisis.

Specifically, NCQA’s high performers in antibiotic stewardship program focuses on how health plans can target outpatient antibiotic prescribing for common conditions—including bronchitis and bronchiolitis, upper respiratory infections, and pharyngitis—known to drive high rates of inappropriate use. According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pew, roughly 30% of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, a reality that threatens patient safety, generates excessive costs, and accelerates the development of resistance.

Experts discuss findings from the program and the important role that stewardship plays in combatting antibiotic resistance in NCQA’s Antibiotic Stewardship Webinar Series, which launched on Aug. 16. Recordings of these sessions will be available online.

David Hyun, M.D., is a project director and Rachel Zetts, M.P.H., is a senior officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ antibiotic resistance project.

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