Expanded HEDIS® Specifications for Physician Measurement Opened to Public Comment

New Set of Performance Measures Expands Scope of Measurement, Provides Support for Electronic Health Record Data Collection

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) today released for public comment an expanded set of measures, guidelines and technical specifications to allow for standardized, equitable assessment of physician practice quality. The new specifications are based on HEDIS®, NCQA’s definitive tool for health quality measurement.

Consumers, employers, health plans and public policymakers have been calling for objective, reliable information about the quality of care delivered in physician offices. Physicians have also sought objective information and clear, standardized methods of measurement to guide quality improvement.

The new volume introduces 25 new measures of clinical quality at the physician level, sets standards for the measurement of the cost of care and provides standardized methods of data collection that account for such emerging and widely-used technologies as electronic medical records (EMRs) and episode-grouping software.

“For 17 years, NCQA has been the leader in health plan quality measurement. These new measures expand the use of our tested assessment tools to the hundreds of thousands of physicians who care for patients every day,� said Greg Pawlson, M.D., M.P.H., NCQA’s Executive Vice President. “These specifications build on our ongoing efforts to provide a level playing field that everyone involved can understand and support.�

The expanded volume of HEDIS Physician Measurement includes 25 new measures, nearly 50 new indicators and a set of new guidelines for data collection for both quality and cost of care measures. Many of the measures developed by NCQA have been adopted by other leading quality organizations’ physician measurement initiatives, including the National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Physician-Focused Ambulatory Care endorsed by the National Quality Forum. Several measures have been adopted by the AQA, an alliance of organizations representing physicians, health plans, employers and other purchasers, consumer advocates and quality measurement experts.

For the first time, this volume features standardized data collection guidelines for information abstracted from either paper patient records or EMRs. The guidelines also spell out a standardized means of collecting cost data from episode-grouping or population risk adjustment software. Many health plans and employers use those programs to measure the cost and appropriateness of care delivered by physicians after adjusting for risk, disease severity or both.

The draft guidelines and specifications are available at NCQA’s Web site, www.ncqa.org; interested parties are invited to comment on the measures through March 5. Following public comment, the final volume of HEDIS 2007 Technical Specifications for Physician Measurement will be released in April.

NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations, recognizes physicians and physician groups in key clinical areas and is responsible for the evolution of HEDIS, the most widely adopted set of health care quality measures in the nation. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information through the Web, media and data licensing agreements in order to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.
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