What is HQMF – Health Quality Measures Format?

National Quality Forum (NQF) joined with HL7, AHIMA and consulting firm Alschuler Associates to develop a draft standard called Health Quality Measure Format (HQMF).  To read more about HQMF, the following press release was issued by the HL7 organization –
Automating Performance Measurement Using Electronic Health Records (PDF).

The HL7 ballot for HQMF offers the following definition and structure outline:

“…is a standard for representing a health quality measure as an electronic document. A quality measure is a quantitative tool that provides an indication of an individual or organization’s performance in relation to a specified process or outcome via the measurement of an action, process or outcome of clinical care. Quality measures are often derived from clinical guidelines and are designed to determine whether the appropriate care has been provided given a set of clinical criteria and an evidence base. Quality measures are also often referred to as performance measures or quality indicators.

Through standardization of a measure’s structure, metadata, definitions, and logic, the HQMF provides for quality measure consistency and unambiguous interpretation. A health quality measure encoded in the HQMF format is referred to as an “eMeasure”.

Standardization of document structure (e.g. sections), metadata (e.g. author, verifier), and definitions (e.g. “numerator”, “initial patient population”) enables a wide range of measures, currently existing in a variety of formats, to achieve at least a minimal level of consistency and readability, even if not fully machine processable.”

As is the case these days, one of the reasons for HQMF is to support “meaningful use” of electronic health records as described by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In the HL7 press release, the following explanation is offered:

“‘This work will make it easier for physicians and other clinicians to monitor and evaluate the care they are providing patients based on data routinely captured during care processes,’ said Floyd Eisenberg, NQF senior vice president of health information technology. ‘This new format standard will enhance the use of nationally-recognized performance measures at the point of care to enable greater transparency for providers and consumers.'”

HL7 is receiving comments on this new format and will make a determination if it ready to become a draft standards by December. Another article which outlines HQMF was recently in Modern Healthcare entitled Quality measure format could change EHR analysis.

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Jon Mertz serves as the editor at HL7Standards.com and vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Jon is an advocate for strong patient engagement in their health and understands the key roles health literacy, patient data, and healthcare interoperability play in developing a better health care model. Follow Jon on Twitter.

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