Agencies update eCQMs, release new MU measuring tool

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT--in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the National Library of Medicine and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality--has updated the specifications for the eligible hospital 2014 e-Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs) finalized in Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program.

The new eCQMs, announced in a blog post by Kevin Larsen, medical director of Meaningful Use at ONC, include new codes, logic corrections and clarifications. CMS "strongly encourages" use of the updated eCQMs but will accept the older ones, according to its website.

"For Meaningful Use Stage 2, the certification of electronic health record technology is necessary to ensure the accurate capture, calculation, and reporting of electronic clinical quality measures and the electronic reporting of quality data to CMS," Larsen said. "Data on these measures give invaluable feedback to providers on performance and clinician alignment with best practices."

The updated eCQMs are not yet available in ONC's certification program or in Cypress, the open source eCQM testing program.

ONC, however, also released a new tool named "Bonnie" that allows measure developers to test the measures and perform related functions, such as crafting synthetic test patients.

The Government Accountability Office last month chastised CMS, calling the CQMs it collected unreliable. GAO recommended that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services develop a strategy to better ensure the reliability of the data being collected and develop and use outcome oriented performance measures to monitor progress toward its goals, including improved quality of care. It is unclear if the new updates address GAO's concerns.

To learn more:
- read the blog post
- access the CQM library