Incentives in the Health IT for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act represent an opportunity to accelerate the development, standardization and utilization of quality measures derived from clinical data in EHRs and from other clinical data sources, according to the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS).
The NCVHS, a statutory public advisory body on health data, statistics and nation health information policy for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in December offering observations and recommendations on meaningful use measurements of quality healthcare using EHRs.
NCVHS held a hearing on Oct. 13 and 14 to better understand the landscape of quality measurement development and use. The testimonies focused on four areas:
- How do we approach building meaningful measures?
- What is the current process for developing measures and does it adequately address measure development for key national priorities and sub-populations?
- How do we introduce new data sources – clinical data from EHRs, user-generated data, etc. – into the measure development process? How do we exchange them for old measures based on administrative data?
- How do we maintain and update measures and what are the health IT system implications?
According to NCVHS, providers are burdened by the need to respond to multiple non-aligned reporting requests which NCVHS believes can be reduced through standardization of quality measure reporting, while at the same time increasing the value and comparability of the reports.
To accomplish these goals in a timely way, NCVHS made three recommendations:
- National quality and performance measurement coordination: HHS should develop a national quality and performance measurement strategy and designate or establish an oversight structure to coordinate and align existing initiatives in the national strategy.
- Establish a quality and performance reporting specifications library: HHS should fund creation of a library of specifications for quality and performance measures and their associated essential EHR data elements.
- Align EHR certification with quality reporting requirements: The Office of the National Coordinator should require as part of EHR system certification for meaningful use that EHR vendors use relevant standard data element definitions from the quality and performance data specification library when producing data in compliance with the meaningful use criteria.