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MCH Measurement Portal FAQs


Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Measurement Portal can be found below.

About the Maternal and Child Health Measurement Research Network (MCH-MRN) Project and Web Portal

What is the MCH-MRN project?
Who sponsors it?
How can I participate in the MCH-MRN?
How is this portal part of the larger MCH-MRN project?
What is the purpose of the CAHMI MCH-MRN Portal?

What can I find on the portal?


About the MCH Measures Compendium and Measure Set Profiles

What is a measure set?
How were the 11 measure sets chosen for the measure set profiles and compendium?
Why are some measures (for example, those included in Child Stats’ America’s Children chartbook) or frameworks (such as RWJF’s Culture of Health) not included in the compendium?
Why are the Head Start measures included in the profiles but not in the compendium?
Why are the NQF measures no longer being updated?
Will there be additional measures/measure sets added in the future?
I still think there are additional, good measures in X measure set – who should I contact to get them included?
Are these measures up-to-date?
How was the measure classification framework created?
Are these measures nationally endorsed?
What are the advantages to using these measures?

Technical Definitions in the MCH Measurement Portal

What is the difference between unit of analysis and target population?
What does it mean for a measure to have technical specifications?
What are the numerator and denominator of a measure?
What does it mean when a measure’s data source is “administrative data?”
 


About the MCH Measurement Portal

What is the MCH-MRN project?

The Maternal and Child Health Measurement Research Network (MCH-MRN) is a multidisciplinary, collaborative network of experts who represent the MCH lifespan and who are active in the measurement of health and well-being of MCH populations. The purpose of the MCH-MRN is to provide a sustainable platform to inspire, support, coordinate, and advance efforts related to MCH measurement, measurement innovation, and shared accountability to improve outcomes and systems performance on behalf of the nation's children, youth, and families. During the current funding cycle (Fall 2016-Summer 2019), the MCH-MRN aspires to establish and maintain:

  • A common, recognizable framework
  • A Strategic Agenda embraced by MCH stakeholders
  • An applied network
  • Actionable resources
  • To learn more, see our MCH-MRN Project Overview. 

    Who sponsors it?

    The MCH-MRN is sponsored by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) (UA6MC26253). The collaborative network is led by the CAHMI, with additional funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

    How can I participate in the MCH-MRN?

    Thank you so much for your interest! Please check out our MCH-MRN Project Overview page for information on ways to participate, including becoming a member of a topic-specific working group. To begin, please fill out our MCH-MRN Engagement Tool to share your interests.

    How is this portal part of the larger Maternal and Child Health Measurement Research Network (MCH-MRN) project?

    In this portal, we share tools that were developed under the rubric of the MCH-MRN. These tools include a dynamic compendium of maternal and child health and well-being measures and 1-page profiles of all the measure programs/initiatives whose measures were included in the compendium. The CAHMI was awarded the 2016-2019 cycle of the MCH-MRN, and will post updates to resources on our MCH-MRN Project Overview page.

    What is the purpose of the MCH-MRN Portal?

    The main purpose of the MCH-MRN Portal is threefold:

    1. To provide metadata (e.g. numerator, denominator, measurement program, target population) on MCH measures used across federal programs and initiatives
    2. To give easy access to measures being used in the field with the potential to drive and shape research, policy, and programs. This includes the potential for harmonization across the various programs and initiatives.
    3. To provide links to additional measurement resources, both from the CAHMI-coordinated MCH-MRN project and from external organizations

    What can I find on the portal?

    Currently, the MCH-MRN portal includes:

    In the future, we hope to expand the portal to include even more measure metadata and resources. If there is additional information that would be particularly useful to you, please feel free to e-mail us at mch-mrn@cahmi.org

    About the MCH Measures Compendium and Measure Set Profiles

    What do you mean by “measure set”?

    A measure set is a collection of measures used by a particular program or initiative, for the purposes of tracking, assessment, and/or evaluation. It is not the same as a data source – for example, a survey of participants such as the National Survey of Children’s Health has individual items that can be used on their own or together as part of a composite measure, and these may be included in other measure sets, but in and of itself it is not a measure set.

    How were the 11 measure sets chosen for the measure set profiles and compendium?

    The 11 measure initiatives/programs included in this portal were selected based on their use within a range of MCH programs across various settings, including state Medicaid/CHIP programs, community MCH health and social services programs, federal maternal, child, youth, and family-serving agencies, health systems, and health plans. Profiles of each of these 11 sets are included on this portal. Individual measures used by each of the 11 MCH programs/initiatives were included in this review and in the compendium as long as they were sufficiently developed to include a specific and clear measure numerator, denominator, and data source.

    Why are some measures (for example, those included in Child Stats’ America’s Children chartbook) or frameworks (such as RWJF’s Culture of Health) not included in the compendium?

    The focus of the compendium is on measures in existing measure sets and initiatives that are used to monitor health and well-being, guide needs assessments, implement and evaluate quality improvement processes, and build knowledge to advance policy, programmatic, and clinical work. The compendium is also focused on measures of health and well-being of children, adolescents, and families. There are many useful, valid measures and indicators in use that were outside the scope of this work; however, some may be included in the future.

    Why are the Head Start measures included in the profiles but not in the compendium?

    Individual measures used by each of the 11 MCH programs/initiatives were included in this review as long as they were sufficiently developed to include a specific and clear measure numerator and denominator and data source. Since the data collected through the Head Start Program Information Report’s 59-part child-health data collection instrument did not provide such information, we were unable to include Head Start measures in the MCH-MRN’s detailed measure characterization steps. However, in the future, it appears that it would be possible to construct measures with clear numerator and denominator specifications from the data collected.  

    Why are the NQF measures not being updated?

    Many of the NQF endorsed measures are not widely used, nor are these measures required for use by NQF, and other issues related to sustaining NQF endorsement were noted that have led to the elimination of many MCH measures whose validity properties had not changed since endorsement but that were not renewed due to lack of resources to resubmit and revalidate these measures. Since NQF does not recommend measures for specific purposes (e.g. health plan assessment; population health surveillance, etc.) and methods for inclusion of measures are unclear we will not continue to update these measures in the compendium. However, the measures currently in the compendium from the initial scan in 2016 will remain, and updates to NQF measures will continue to be considered in the future.

    Will there be additional measures/measure sets added in the future?

    We hope to include additional relevant measures/measure sets in the future as time and resources allow.

    I still think there are additional, good measures in X measure set – who should I contact to get them included?

    You may contact CAHMI staff at mch-mrn@cahmi.org with such inquiries. We will periodically review and add new measures to the compendium as time, resources, and appropriateness for the compendium allow.

    Are these measures up-to-date?

    These measures are up to date as of July 2018. We plan on updating this information annually as capacity allows.

    How was the measure classification framework created?

    During the previous cycle of the MCH-MRN (2013-2016), the CAHMI led a stakeholder input process and environmental scan of existing MCH measures. During this process, 12 MCH programs were recommended for review, and the examination of these programs led to the development of a four-part MCH measurement review process. As a part of this review process, a model was developed to characterize individual measures across multiple aspects of measurement, including topic(s) addressed by the measure. Each measure was categorized into one of three broad categories aligned with the MCH-MRN framework (n.b. this system was updated and streamlined in 2018 based on input from stakeholders) , and then from there into a high level topical domain, and then a specific topical area. The first two levels of this classification system are shown below:

    • Access to and quality of health care services
      • Health coverage and access to care
      • Health service utilization
      • Quality of care
    • Health status, well-being, and health conditions across the life course
      • Overall health and well-being
      • Condition prevalence and health status
      • Health protective and risk behaviors
      • Mortality
    • Social determinants of health
      • Economic factors
      • Community and family context
      • Equity and racism
      • Education
      • Physical and built environment
      • Policies and programs

    For example, the AMCHP Life Course Indicator 9, the proportion of households experiencing food insecurity, is classified as:

    Level 1: Social Determinants of Health
    Level 2: Economic Factors
    Level 3: Food Security  

    Are these measures nationally endorsed or required for use?

    Some measures are endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF) for voluntary use; some measures are also included in the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Endorsement simply means that a measure has been examined in a formal way by an organization containing measurement experts, and judged to be of high quality. However, this process can take a great deal of time and resources, and is usually not covered by grant funding. Lack of endorsement does not necessarily reflect the quality or validity of a given measure.

    What are the advantages to using these measures?

    Many of the measures included in the MCH-MRN’s electronic compendium are actively used to collect and report on data for a variety of purposes. Using these measures provides the benefit of improving the harmonization of a core set of measures across MCH agencies and programs and gives easy access to information and resources on existing measures. Standardizing measurement systems will provide evidence and guidance to support definitions of health that extend beyond the absence of disease. 

    Technical Definitions in the MCH Measurement Portal

    What is the difference between unit of analysis and target population?

    The unit of analysis is the major entity being analyzed by a measure, which could be individuals, groups, or organizations (e.g. infants, caregivers, schools, clinics, or states). The target population is the demographic group of focus (e.g. infants, children, mothers, or pregnant women). For example, in a measure looking at the requirements for health education in high schools, the unit of analysis is high schools, but the target population is adolescents.

    What does it mean for a measure to have technical specifications?

    Technical specifications include numerator and denominator statements at the very least. Technical specifications can also include detailed information on the validation, development, and origin of many a measure. Measures were only included in the compendium if they had at least the minimum technical specifications of numerator and denominator statements. See the CAHMI’s 4-part Measure Review Strategy for more information on what defines a measure.

    What are the numerator and denominator of a measure?

    The denominator of a measure can be thought of as the greater overall population, for example “children age 0-5”.  The numerator of a measure can be thought of as the topic being measured among the population.  For, instance an example of a numerator would be “hospitalizations among children age 0-5”.

    To illustrate this concept more specifically, when considering a measure that seeks to capture the proportion of adolescents ages 13-17 who received the HPV vaccine, the denominator would be the “total population of adolescents aged 13-17”, and the numerator would be “adolescents aged 13-17 who received a complete series of the HPV vaccine.”

    What does it mean when a measure’s data source is “administrative data?”

    When a measure’s data source is identified as “administrative data”, the data is typically pulled from sources such as insurance claims, birth and death certificates, and health records (both paper and electronic).