The National Quality Forum (NQF) Board of Directors has endorsed 14 infectious disease quality measures aimed at improving patient care. The measures address issues such as appropriate treatment for upper respiratory infections, screening for tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases in HIV/AIDS patients.
“Infectious diseases have a tremendous, adverse impact on our healthcare system and the health of our nation,” said Helen Burstin, MD, senior vice president for performance measures at NQF. “These endorsed measures will be essential in helping providers evaluate patients, manage appropriate treatments, and ultimately improve patient care.”
NQF officials note that many infectious diseases have been controlled or eradicated with vaccines and innovative medicine; yet, others are still responsible for widespread morbidity and mortality as well as rising healthcare costs.
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An estimated 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, with nearly 642,000 deaths since 1981, according to NQF. Healthcare spending on related medical care, research, and prevention efforts totaled $21.3 billion in 2011. Additionally, the healthcare system spends $17 billion on treatment for sexually transmitted infections, with approximately 19 million new infections each year.
“The healthcare costs associated with treating infectious diseases in the United States are significant,” said Steven J. Brotman, MD, senior vice president for payment and healthcare delivery policy at The Advanced Medical Technology (AdvaMed) and co-chair of the Infectious Disease Endorsement Steering Committee. “These measures – thoroughly evaluated by a diverse group of infectious disease experts – focus on helping individuals stay healthy and treating disease earlier and more effectively, which will be instrumental to reducing unnecessary healthcare costs.”
The measures include those that have been endorsed for at least three years and are now undergoing NQF endorsement maintenance. The ongoing evaluation and updating of endorsed measures ensures they are current, "best in class," address gaps in existing measures, are synchronistic with national priorities, and enhance NQF’s infectious disease portfolio. In all, 34 measures were submitted for evaluation against NQF’s endorsement criteria. Seven measures were withdrawn from consideration; 14 measures – including four new submissions – were endorsed. Two measures are still under consideration.
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“The U.S. healthcare system has made great strides in eliminating and managing many infectious diseases, but much work remains to be done,” said Edward Septimus, MD, medical director for Infection Prevention and Epidemiology for the Clinical Service Group at HCA Healthcare System and co-chair of the Infectious Disease Endorsement Steering Committee. “These measures will give providers the tools they need to effectively evaluate and advance high-quality care for individuals suffering from diseases we have yet to eradicate.”
NQF is a voluntary consensus standards-setting organization. Any party may request reconsideration of any of the 14 endorsed quality measures listed by submitting an appeal no later than February 6 (to submit an appeal, go to the NQF Measure Database). For an appeal to be considered, the notification must include information clearly demonstrating that the appellant has interests directly and materially affected by the NQF-endorsed recommendations and that the NQF decision has had (or will have) an adverse effect on those interests.