The National Quality Forum (NQF) has endorsed nine new U.S. voluntary consensus standards for health IT in the areas of electronic prescribing, EHR interoperability, care management, quality registries and the medical home.
"If we hope to achieve high-quality, patient-centered care, we need interoperable health IT that can help us share information electronically and track patients throughout the delivery system -- all of which can reduce errors and overuse and increase measurement across the continuum of care," said NQF President and CEO Janet Corrigan. "These newly endorsed measures can provide important information on effective use of health IT for both early adopters and those who are just beginning to implement health IT systems."
Of the nine standards, the NQF has endorsed two measures to increase adoption of interoperable EHRs: the first measures adoption of an EHR to manage clinical data within a practice, the second measures receipt of clinical data such as external laboratory results into an EHR. The agency said it has aligned these measures with recommended EHR certification criteria from the Certification Commission for Health Care Information Technology (CCHIT) whenever possible.
Additionally, the agency has endorsed electronic care management structural standards to measure the use of health IT to identify specific patients in need of care, track their preferences and laboratory results, and assist the clinician in providing evidence-based care according to national guidelines using automated alerts and reminders. The first standard measures health IT used during a patient-clinician visit and the second measures clinical results between visits, according to NQF.
Organizations that developed the measures include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Quality Insights of Pennsylvania (QIP) and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).