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Concurrent eCQMs and abstracted CQMs Key to Good Quality Management

April 14, 2015
by Kayt Sukel
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Is your organization participating in a pay-for-quality program?  How much are you willing to do to meet those standards? 

Maggie Lohnes, principal at Sound Informatics, led yesterday's HIMSS15 online session, Navigating the Quality Measurement Maze, with these very questions.  (And she and co-speaker Ferdinand Velasco, CHIO of Texas Health Resources, illustrated the importance of those questions by leaving dollar bills on some seats in the front row of the auditorium and then inviting attendees to move up seats in order to receive those pay-for-quality dollars.  Unsurprisingly, only a handful did.  Because, as Velasco pointed out, it doesn't always make sense to make a big move for so little money).

It provided an interesting start to the presentation.  Lohnes emphasized that we are only in the earliest stages of leveraging the promise of electronic health records (EHRs) to meet our quality management aspirations.  And that, she argued, means that quality measurement programs are often mazes that require a well thought-out plan to successfully navigate.  As she discussed the current quality measurement ecosystem, she clearly stated that the goal of all healthcare organizations should be to get out of the maze "with the highest value measures and the lowest clinician burden."  And figuring out how to do that is an evolving process--but it's becoming more and more clear that the focus should be on sync'ing electronic and abstracted clinical quality measures, understanding that data will come from a variety of different sources in the future, and successfully translating any measue into actual value.

With such an ecosystem in mind, Velasco discussed the framework being used at Texas Health Resources to meet quality mandates.  He stated that any navigation plan requires to pay close attention to people, process, and technology.   It's not all about technology, he stated--and sometimes how well you navigate the maze depends on how good your EHR vendor is.  "Not all technology is mature," he explained.  "And we need to be mindful of that."

Based on his experience, he suggests engaging key leadership and forming an interdisciplinary working team.  And because technology isn't quite where we need it to be in terms of quality, he highly recommends developing a strategy that will support both electronically generated as well as abstrated clinical quality measures.  He also stated it can be helpful to prioritize different quality measures by defining "measurement families" that share content, logic and value sets, so similar data can be used for multiple purposes.  But, most of all, he urged attendees to aggressively engage in quality management programs in their own organizations.

"You can't sit back and be passive," he concluded.  "You have to engage and actively participate to be successful."

HIMSS15 attendees can watch Lohnes' and Velasco's presentation on demand by logging into HIMSS15 Online.

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