Increasing numbers of children with special health care needs are enrolling in managed care programs. Although managed care may improve service coordination and use of primary care, it may also threaten health outcomes for these children by potentially decreasing access to the range of needed services, eroding progress in developing community-based service systems, and failing to assure quality of care. To date, few frameworks have been proposed to assess quality of care for this population of children in managed care organizations. In this article, we adapt the Institute of Medicine's definition of quality and identify six key components: content of service delivery systems, the nature of desired health outcomes, risks associated with service delivery, constraints of care, interpersonal dimensions, and attention to developmental issues. These components can be assessed at three levels: the individual, the health plan, and the community. Pediatricians and other child health professionals have critical roles to play in assuring that policies and practices within managed care organizations promote a high quality of care for this vulnerable population of children.
- Received April 4, 1995.
- Accepted September 4, 1995.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics