NQF guidance aims to reduce quality measure variation
- The National Quality Forum issued guidance on reducing unnecessary variations in healthcare quality measures, with the aim of making measurement more consistent and useful in enhancing patient care.
- A 2013 analysis commissioned by NQF identified 1,367 quality measures across 48 state and regional programs, 509 of which were unique. The remaining 858 overlapped, but had one or more variations.
- The guidance provides a decision-logic framework, which suggests possible strategies for addressing variation or validates that variation is not applicable or needed, to help cut down on measure variation. It also aims to improve comparison and interpretation of measure results.
Calculating “value” in value-based care can be challenging without fully interoperable networks that allow providers to share data. Providers also lack a common set of data standards for assessing patient information, so they’re left comparing apples to oranges — without a good way to assess real value.
“Quality measures are essential building blocks in large-scale public- and private-payer efforts to reform the nation’s healthcare system,” Helen Darling, NQF’s interim president and CEO, said in a statement. “But slightly different versions of the same measure contribute to waste through reporting burden for providers and make performance comparisons more difficult.”
According to the guidance, which was funded by HHS, common reasons for measure variation included end-user preferences, new evidence underpinning a measure, implementation barriers such as data access, and not being aware of existing measures. To address the problem, NQF calls for the creation of a comprehensive database of measures, both in development and in use.
- National Quality Forum Variation in Measure Specifications – Sources and Mitigation Strategies Final Report
- National Quality Forum NQF Provides Guidance to Help Reduce Variation in Healthcare Quality Measures