Standards emphasize measurement gaps and harmonization
WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To fill gaps in assessing clinician performance that can promote higher quality health care, the National Quality Forum (NQF) has endorsed 67 clinician-level consensus standards relating to cancer care, infectious diseases, perioperative care, and care provided by thousands of medical professionals who are not MDs, but provide critical services. NQF also endorsed four facility-level measures in surgery and anesthesia, 17 measures addressing prevention and management of stroke across the continuum of care, and three measures for influenza and pneumococcal immunizations, a total of 91 consensus standards.
NQF-endorsed(TM) voluntary consensus standards are widely viewed as the "gold standard" for the measurement of healthcare quality.
"A commitment to public reporting and transparency can make the real difference in improving safety, healthcare quality, and patient engagement," said NQF president and CEO Dr. Janet Corrigan. "This important set of measures can help us track progress toward improved safety and coordination of care across clinicians and settings."
NQF has not previously addressed the area of infectious disease, particularly hepatitis and HIV/AIDs. The NQF portfolio already includes facility-level cancer and perioperative care measures, which are expanded and enriched by this new clinician-level measure set.
The purpose of NQF-endorsed voluntary consensus standards is to improve the quality of health care--through accountability and public reporting--by standardizing quality measurement in all care settings.
Cancer exacts a tremendous toll. In 2008, approximately 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. Half a million will die. The financial burden associated with cancer care was estimated at $219.2 billion for 2007.
The 16 new NQF-endorsed voluntary consensus standards for cancer care can be used to raise the quality of care by evaluating the performance of clinicians working in hematology, radiation oncology, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and pathology pertaining to cancer care at the clinician level. For example, these measures can help decrease unnecessary bone scans for prostate cancer, avoid radiation dosing for normal tissue, and support patient engagement by communicating treatment/pain management plans.
Lee Newcomer, MD, executive vice president of oncology at United HealthCare in Minnesota, and Suzanne Miller, MD, director of behavioral medicine at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Pennsylvania, co-chaired NQF's steering committee on clinician-level cancer care. "There's an overwhelming amount of misinformation about what constitutes good care," said Miller. "Quality measures, particularly at a clinician level, pave the path for communicating with patients and providing patient-centered care in a comprehensive way."
Measures were developed by the American Medical Association's Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, the American Society of Hematology, the American Urological Association, and the College of American Pathology.
The 23 new NQF-endorsed voluntary consensus standards for infectious disease prevention, treatment, and management fill an urgent need within the current landscape of quality measures. Hepatitis C (HVC)-associated chronic liver disease is the most frequent indication for liver transplantation among adults in the United States. A study of Asian American adults found 10.7 percent of those born in Southeast Asia or the Pacific Islands were chronically