ONC releases updated quality data model

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has published a new quality data model (QDM) to be used for clinical guidelines, quality measures and clinical decision support.

The QDM, formerly known as the Quality Data Set, defines concepts used in quality measurement and healthcare. According to ONC, the measures must be specified to account for the way data are expressed in electronic health records and other electronic products, such as personal health records.

The updated QDM "provides a structure to describe clinical concepts contained within quality measures in a standardized format so individuals [i.e., providers, researchers, or measure developers] monitoring clinical performance and outcomes can concisely communicate necessary information," according to ONC. "The QDM also describes information so EHRs and other health IT systems can consistently interpret and easily locate data required for quality measurement.

Adds ONC: "By helping to facilitate quality and performance measurement directly from EHRs, the QDM aggregates clinical data for quality reporting. The QDM also has the potential to bring real-time information and feedback to the point of care."

Some of the changes to the QDM from its last update in December 2012 include providing definitions for each category and data type, and splitting attribute anatomical structures into "anatomical focus site" and "anatomical location site." ONC notes that the QDM will continue to evolve.

EHRs have long been touted as a means to improve quality reporting. However, it has been reported that even the most sophisticated EHR users encounter trouble generating electronic quality reports.

Last January, the American Hospital Association panned the EHR quality measures process for being "too rushed." In a letter to then-National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack criticized the fact that that the EHR certification process for Stage 1 only calls upon vendors to verify that their products can "electronically produce numerators, denominators and exclusions in the required standardized format."

To learn more:
- here's the new QDM