NQF endorses new slate of quality measures

By Mike Miliard
09:12 AM

Perinatal and renal care among those added

WASHINGTON – The National Quality Forum (NQF) approved for endorsement several sets of quality measures in April, addressing areas such as perinatal and renal care and how resources are put to use in care delivery.

Speaking at the HIMSS Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas earlier this year, NQF President and CEO Janet Corrigan (who in March announced plans to step down) said quality measures are essential tools to help "move forward in building high-value health systems," and to bringing about "fundamental reform" across the care delivery spectrum.

As such, she called for "measures and incentives at every level – embedded in the payment programs and public reporting efforts at every layer of the healthcare system."

On April 2, the NQF Board of Directors approved 14 quality measures on perinatal care, addressing issues such as childbirth, pregnancy, post-partum care and newborn care.

“With more than four million births in the United States each year, perinatal measures are needed to ensure the health and well-being of new mothers and newborns,” said Corrigan in a press release. “This set of measures will help promote the type of high-quality care these populations deserve.”

Also on April 2, NQF approved for endorsement 12 quality measures on renal care, focusing on chronic kidney disease, end stage renal disease and dialysis.

“These measures are a welcome addition to the NQF portfolio,” said Peter Crooks, MD, Associate Medical Director for Operations at Southern California Kaiser Permanente and co-chair of the Renal Endorsement Maintenance Steering Committee. “Kidney disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. These measures will help providers better manage dialysis patients and also those patients with earlier stages of kidney disease.”

Finally, NQF has also endorsed four new measures on healthcare resource use and costs. The measures – focusing on care costs associated with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hip/knee replacement and pneumonia – are meant to provide vital data on how resources are used in these areas of care. Such data will help create a more efficient, less wasteful healthcare system, officials say.

Resource use measures as defined by NQF are comparable measures of actual dollars or standardized units of resources applied to the care given to a specific population or event, such as a specific diagnosis or procedure. NQF previously endorsed a first set of resource use measures in January 2012.

“Healthcare spending in the United States continues to rise without any significant gains in patient satisfaction, increased access to care, or higher-quality care,” said Corrigan. “I’m confident that these additional measures – in conjunction with existing resource use measures in our portfolio – will help us better understand what is driving costs and create a more effective, efficient healthcare system.”

Speaking earlier this year HIMSS12, Corrigan made the case that standardized performance measures – for which "health information technology is essential, would enable "logarithmic" change across healthcare.

"We have a good shot at really moving at an exponential pace over the next five to 10 years, to really get to where we want to go," she said.