Electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) are tools that help measure/evaluate the quality of health care services offered by eligible hospitals, professionals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) operating in the nation’s health care system. eCQMs use data from EHR (electronic health records) and/or other health information technology systems to gauge the quality of health care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) use eCQMs to publicly generate reports on quality data as well as in other various quality incentive programs. Basically, eCQMs help to quantify the level of quality in the health care system. With measuring and reporting, then the responsible organizations can take action and use the acquired data to work safely, effectively, timely and equitably in delivering care.
In a glance, eCQMs measure various aspects of patient care that include;
- Clinical processes
- Health outcomes
- Care coordination
- Patient engagement
- Patient safety
- Efficiency in the use of public resources
- Population and public health management
- Adherence to clinical guidelines
When implemented correctly, the EHR-based automatic quality measure reporting can help ease the burden of quality reporting while at the same increasing easier access to real-time information that can help with quality improvement. But for this to happen, the eCQMs generated from EHR data must be based on information that is possible to collect automatically, generate reliable results, and hence illustrate a benefit that beats costs.
New guidelines to reduce eCQM meaningful use reporting requirements
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has put in new guidelines that are set to help reduce the burden experienced in EHR reporting by providers. The new provisions, which will affect the 2017 and 2018 year’s reporting, are set to provide flexibility for collection periods.
According to the provisions, hospitals should now select 6 of the electronic clinical quality measures listed in the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program measure set to run through the 2017 reporting period as well as the 2019 fiscal payment determination. This is contrary to the prior requirement which was 8 eCQMs.
These changes affect all hospitals and care centers that are required to collect eCQMs as part of the Health record incentive programs and forthcoming payment system. According to CMS, the changes are meant to help relieve regulatory burdens, support patient-doctor relationship in the healthcare industry, and promote flexibility, transparency, as well as innovation in the delivery of healthcare. The provisions would also target to ease the meaningful use attestation period to any continuous 90 day period for hospitals and physicians in 2018.
The CMS also plans to reduce the number of requirements for providers utilizing decertified technology because of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s certification program. With the change, there will now be an added exception that takes away the penalty fined for being unable to meet the requirements.
These changes are here to stay and will help in patient care
The proposed changes will also be covering the 2018 Medicare payments for inpatient services while simultaneously taking it a notch down on the reporting requirements by eCQMs. The CMS will also be looking to limit the eCQM reporting requirements to just 90 days for physicians, while at the same time combining the program with a merit-based incentive payment system.
The provision came amidst calls by healthcare industry leaders for the CMS to reduce meaningful use and quality data reporting requirements. However, the CMS asked concerned parties to provide it with feedback that can help it offer solutions which deliver a more simplified and transparent reporting system.
In a statement by CMS officials, the body indicated that it would like to spark a national conversation on ways of improving the healthcare delivery system. It stated that it would like to know how it can contribute to making the delivery system less complicated and bureaucratic, as well as how to reduce the burden on providers, clinicians, and patients in a way that decreases care costs while also increasing the quality of care.