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Joint Commission Program Targets Clinical Quality Measures

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Thirteen-member advisory panel will help The Joint Commission improve support for hospitals on clinical quality measures.

Joint Commission focus on clinical quality measures

The Joint Commission has appointed a baker's dozen of healthcare professionals to provide support  to hospitals for reporting clinical quality measures as part of the Pioneers in Quality Program, the organization announced Monday.

"Specifically, the panel will be informing The Joint Commission as to the successes and challenges hospitals are experiencing as they progress in their adoption and use of electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs)," the organization stated. "Further, the committee will work with The Joint Commission to determine the best ways to support hospitals in their use of eCQMs to measure and improve the quality of care being provided."

Launched in January 2016, the Pioneers in Quality Program will provide a valuable role while the organization's Top Performer on Key Quality Measures program takes a break, allowing the latter the opportunity to undergo necessary changes "to better reflect the evolving national measurement environment," the Joint Commission statement read.

The appointed members of Pioneers in Quality Program come from various parts of the healthcare community (see the full list below) —healthcare organizations such as HCA, Ascension, and Providence Health Services;  health IT vendors such as Cerner Corporation and Medisolv, Inc.; and federal and not profit organizations such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

Members of Pioneers in Quality Program

“The combined expertise of this outstanding group will better inform our efforts and benefit hospitals who need real world solutions,” The Joint Commission Executive Vice President David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, explained. “We are steadfastly focused on developing viable solutions to the measurement-related issues that hospitals are facing.”

Clinical quality measures — sometimes specified as electronic CQMs — play a key role in the healthcare industry's attempt to assess the quality of care delivered by providers across the country. To date, they have featured significantly in federal programs such as the EHR Incentive Programs, Physician Quality Reporting System, and Value Modifier Program.

Just a week ago, CMS released the final version of the Quality Measure Development Plan, a framework for establishing clinical quality measures and reporting programs that support new value-based reimbursement models.

The purpose behind the document was to help healthcare providers navigate clinical quality measures and reporting systems under the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and alternative payment models (APMs) under MACRA.

“The Quality Measure Development Plan is an essential aspect of this transition, which will provide the foundation for building and implementing a measure portfolio to support the quality payment programs under MACRA," Kate Goodrich, MD, MHS, Director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, wrote in a post on the official CMS blog.

The finalized plan spans six categories: clinical care, patient safety, care coordination, patient and caregiver experience, prevention and population health, and affordable care.

“The MACRA law provides the opportunity to further progress the Medicare program and our national health care system toward paying for value rather than volume,” said Goodrich. “However, the successful implementation of the Quality Payment Program established by MACRA requires a partnership with patients, their families, frontline clinicians, and professional organizations to develop measures that are meaningful, applicable, and useful across payers and health care settings.”

Prior to releasing the framework earlier this month, CMS issued a request for public comment on its draft of the 2017 Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA) Implementation Guide for Hospital Quality Reporting (HQR), designed to help eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals report eCQMs. Around the same time, the federal agency officially updated eCQMs for eligible professionals and hospitals in 2017.

The Pioneers in Quality Program comes at a time when federal officials are working to make quality reporting the highest-ranked component of MIPS under the Quality Reporting Program, accounting for half of an eligible clinician's composite performance score to qualify for payment adjustments.

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