Quality Measures Workgroup unofficially endorses 'innovation track'

Health IT leaders expressed interest in a voluntary "innovation track" for reporting clinical quality measurements for Meaningful Use Stage 3 at a July 1 meeting of the ONC Health IT Policy Committee's Quality Measures Workgroup, according to Government Health IT.

Forty participants at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT workgroup meeting said they would support the idea of the innovation track, with another seven expressing support with reservations. Only eight objected, according to the article.

A majority also indicated a preference for allowing any eligible health professional to be involved in developing e-clinical quality measures, versus limiting development to professional societies and integrated delivery networks.

The Quality Measures Workgroup will develop recommendations for data intermediaries and standards to support e-clinical quality measures, Government Health IT noted. The group is chaired by Helen Burstin, National Quality Forum vice president for performance measures, and co-chaired by Terry Cullen, M.D., Veterans Health Administration director of informatics.

Burstin and Cullen also recommended that providers initially receive Meaningful Use Stage 3 credit only for measures contained in the EHR incentive program, according to the article. Longer term, they suggested creating a small set of standardized quality measures similar to core Meaningful Use measures.

The measures need to shift to quality outcomes for patients rather than processes for providers to reflect the transition to patient-centered care, Christine Bechtel of the National Partnership for Women & Families said during the discussion.

Writing in the June 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, M.D., and two co-authors advocated for quality measurements that "transition from setting-specific, narrow snapshots … to assessments that are broad based, meaningful, and patient centered in the continuum of time in which care is delivered."

The "next generation of electronic health records and interoperable health information technology stems can be a key foundational building block" for a common measurement platform, they wrote.

Proposed Stage 3 meaningful use measures have been drawing criticism for months from major organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the American College of Physicians.

"The Stage 3 proposal continues to be a large and growing collection of functional measures," Michael Zaroukian, chairman of the ACP's Medical Informatics Committee, wrote in a January letter to Mostashari. The letter called the proposed measures "arduous" and "difficult to meet," seeming to focus more on increasing documentation than on improving outcomes.

For more information:
- read the Government Health IT article
- here's the ACP letter