Did you know?
- Nearly 269 million antibiotic prescriptions are dispensed annually in the United States.
- Nearly 30 percent of antibiotics prescribed in outpatient settings are potentially inappropriate, which can lead to antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotic-resistant infections affect up to 2 million people annually and are associated with 23,000 deaths.
And we know from where many of the inappropriate prescriptions arise.
Antibiotics prescribed for respiratory conditions in outpatient settings are a major driver of antibiotic overuse. Further, experts are concerned that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could propel even more overuse and undo much of the nation’s progress on antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic Resistance: Our Work
With this troubling possibility in mind and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding, NCQA tested and developed a measure addressing the use of antibiotics for respiratory conditions. NCQA released the Antibiotic Utilization for Respiratory Conditions in HEDIS® for 2022.
The measure can help health plans more closely monitor antibiotic use and assist with stewardship efforts. It tracks antibiotic prescriptions across both appropriate and inappropriate respiratory conditions. Health plans can compare prescribing for these conditions against that of other health plans using a measure that is less vulnerable to variation in diagnosis and coding practices.
The measure can be used along with three existing HEDIS measures that target inappropriate prescribing for upper respiratory infections, pharyngitis and acute bronchitis.
Resist Resistance: What can health plans do?
Health plans serve an important role in antibiotic stewardship efforts given their ability to track usage across a member’s health care providers.
Tracking antibiotic prescribing for all acute respiratory conditions will provide context about a health plan’s overall antibiotic use when viewed with three HEDIS measures of appropriate testing and inappropriate prescribing.
Antibiotic resistance is a longstanding issue—one that precipitated prior measures. With new Covid implications on prescribing, this measure adds a new weapon to fight antibiotic resistance, at just the right time.