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Quality Reporting Made Easy

January 13, 2012
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NQF releases Measure Authoring Tool to standardized electronic measures

Yesterday, the National Quality Forum (NQF) unveiled a new version of itsMeasure Authoring Tool (MAT), a web-based tool that allows measure developers to create standardized electronic measures (eMeasures) that came out in September. These eMeasures are created without writing XML and can be read by humans and computers and benefit measure developers, as well as quality and health IT stakeholders.

Floyd Eisenberg, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president, Health Information Technology, NQF, says the MAT will simplify the process of creating an eMeasure and allow for better standardization for comparability for all measure developers. “It adds value because it’s usable for all measure developers to support the internal quality improvement, as well as public reporting programs,” says Eisenberg. “Local facilities and local practices can use a standard format for their ownmeasures, not just those that are used in public programs.”

The underlying foundation for the MAT is NQF’s Quality Data Model (QDM) that clearly defines concepts used in quality measures and describe clinical concepts in a standardized format so individuals can communicate necessary information compatible with data captures in electronic health record (EHR) and other clinical IT systems.

Chris Millet, senior project manager, eMeasure Quality, Health Information Technology, NQF, gave a rundown of the MAT’s new features that included:

-the ability to create and maintain multiple versions of a measure.
-search and use value sets created by other users
-provide narrative text to accompany measure components so users clearly understand a measure’s purpose
-stratify measure components by specific criteria—such as ages or location—to better manage measure building and output.
-specify supplemental data for measure evaluation to support risk adjustment specified in some measures.

Within the tool, the first step to finding or creating a measure is to search within the value set library. You can either search by keyword like “cardiac” or you can select from a drop down to create a new version, create measure version of a draft, or create a draft of an existing measure. “To modify the value sets still requires notifying the author of the value set and that can be done because there may be changes that someone might recommend and we certainly encourage that kind of communication because that encourages harmonization and reuse, but  you can reuse a value set even though you haven’t created it,” says Eisenberg.  

“Our hope is that the individual measure developers creating measures will look at the value sets currently in use, evaluate their need for modifications and contact the owners to then do those updates to create a community to do that,” adds Eisenberg.

Within the measure library, users can create multiple versions of measure, and it shows the date the particular version was finalized. “We added in fields for the numerator and the denominator so you can type in a general description for each piece, as opposed to only one description for the measure,” says Millet.  “That’s to help allow users to know what the measure is really getting at.”

MAT is another quality measure search and collaboration tool from the NQF, in addition to the Quality Positioning System (QPS), which I reported on in September. The QPS tool allows clinical professionals, and the public alike, to share information about measures, learn about others’ measurement and reporting efforts, and stay informed about changes in endorsement status, but only for NQF-endorsed measures.