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NQF Helps Ensure Health IT Captures Information to Drive Quality Improvement

Friday, November 13, 2009 General News J E 4
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Quality Data Set Provides Framework for Integrating Data to Measure Quality of Care Patients Receive

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Quality Forum (NQF) announced today the release of the Quality Data Set (QDS), a common technological framework for defining clinical data necessary to measure performance and accelerate improvement in patients' quality of care. The QDS framework provides a standardized set of data that should be captured in patients' electronic health records and is applicable to all care settings a patient is likely to use in his or her lifetime.

"Providing a common data resource for all stakeholders in the quality-measures supply chain will allow us to align our efforts and improve the comparability of quality reports while dramatically reducing the burden of quality measurement," said Paul Tang, MD, MS, chair of the expert panel that drafted the QDS. "This is a dynamic structure that will continue to grow and expand to meet future needs of quality measurement." Dr. Tang is vice president and chief medical information officer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and consulting associate professor of medicine (Biomedical Informatics) at Stanford University.

To date, collecting and reporting meaningful healthcare performance data has been a largely manual process, which not only creates burden, but can be inefficient and lead to inconsistent results. The QDS acts as a dictionary for quality measurement, providing a standardized core set of data. Common definitions are the foundation of strong benchmarking and performance comparison. NQF soon will begin requiring measures submitted for endorsement to include e-specifications that align with the QDS framework.

"We are so pleased that we now have this fundamental building block for quality measurement and improvement," said Janet Corrigan, NQF president and CEO. "The Quality Data Set will help ensure that measure developers use common data definitions and conventions when specifying measures for use with electronic health records."

The QDS framework ensures the latest health information technology requirements are seamlessly woven into quality measures. By providing a common language to describe the information within quality measures, the QDS enables quality measurement from a variety of electronic sources, including electronic health records (EHRs), personal health records (PHRs), registries and health information exchanges (HIEs). The framework consists of standard elements (a code list for a specific condition such as diabetes, or a medication such as aspirin); quality data elements (information describing the context of use in the clinical care process such as a past history of diabetes or the administration of aspirin); and data flow attributes (the sources of the information --who is providing the standard and quality data elements, what the care setting is, etc.)

Background on the Development of the QDS

NQF's Health Information Technology Expert Panel (HITEP), chaired by Dr. Tang, was reconvened specifically to develop the QDS. HITEP builds on the work of a 2008 panel, which identified 11 data categories and 39 data types. While HITEP's first report led to new feasibility criteria for measures endorsed by NQF, HITEP's latest work ensures measure specifications best-leverage electronic clinical information from disparate sources. To define the QDS framework, HITEP and its technical panels reviewed the data requirements associated with all NQF-endorsed(R) quality measures and considered additional requirements for future cross-cutting, patient-centered measures. The initial QDS will be populated to support the measures currently included in NQF's portfolio.

This work was conducted under a contract from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The mission of the National Quality Forum is to improve the quality of American healthcare by setting national priorities and goals for performance improvement, endorsing national consensus standards for measuring and publicly reporting on performance, and promoting the attainment of national goals through education and outreach programs. NQF, a non-profit organization (www.qualityforum.org) with diverse stakeholders across the public and private health sectors, was established in 1999 and is based in Washington, DC.

SOURCE National Quality Forum
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