Under a Medicare mandate, hospitals in 2016 were supposed to begin collecting new electronic clinical quality measures, and now a reporting deadline of mid-March awaits.

Known as eCQMs, these are measures of quality specified in an electronic format that uses structured electronic health records data in a machine-to-machine transaction, explains Michelle Dardis, project director and quality measurement nurse specialist at the Joint Commission.

The idea of eCQMs is to simplify quality measure reporting that hospitals already do via a software program offered by electronic health records vendors and quality reporting companies such as Premier and Midas+.

But how ready hospitals are for reporting in March isn’t yet clear. Results of a survey last spring found 48 percent of responding hospital could extract the data needed to support eCQMs, but only 18 percent believed their eCQMs could accurately reflect care quality.

“So we need to have a discussion on the challenges of eCQMs and how to create value,” Dardis contends. And that’s what is going to occur during a session at HIMSS17.

John Marc Alban, associate director of quality measurement and informatics at the Joint Commission, will present and explain eCQMs survey results. Then, Dardis will lead a general discussion among audience members on the challenges of successfully collecting, reporting and using the quality measures.

And the challenges are not minor. “Organizations lack interoperability of information systems to collect data, and it is challenging for those in the quality world because eCQM specifications don’t align with chart abstraction measures, so you get two different measures,” Dardis says. Consequently, measure results aren’t yet matching expectations for quality reporting.

Still, there is value in the new reporting process, she adds. “Electronic clinical quality measures hold a lot of promise for simplifying reporting and leveraging EHR data to deliver improved quality.”

Session 117, “ECQM Readiness and Challenges: An Essential Conversation,” is scheduled at 1 p.m. on February 21 in Room W311E.

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