• One of the holy grails for quality measurement is realizing the promise of making health data and analytics meaningful, usable, and available in real time for providers and consumers. Public- and private-sector leaders recently convened by NQF took up this issue in order to craft recommendations to help facilitate more timely reporting and use of health data.

    The NQF initiative, which was supported by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, was spurred by a 2014 report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that called for systems engineering approaches to improve healthcare quality and value. The resulting deliberations and recommendations to improve data availability in healthcare are distilled in a newly released NQF draft white paper, available for public review and comment through June 15.

    The report identifies several opportunities to improve data and make it more useful for systematic improvement. Specific stakeholder action could include the government making Medicare data more broadly available in a timely manner, states building an analytic platform for Medicaid, and private payers facilitating open data and public reporting. In addition, electronic health record (EHR) vendors and health information technology policymakers could improve the healthcare delivery system’s ability to retrieve and act on data, such as by preventing recurring high fees for data access.

    In addition, the report identifies actions that all stakeholders could take to make data more available and usable, including focusing on common metrics, providing analyzed (not just raw) data sets for open data, and establishing standards on common data elements to collect, exchange, and report.

    “While we are seeing improvements in healthcare quality, the system isn’t meeting its potential,” said Elliott Fisher, MD, MPH, director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, who participated in the deliberations that informed the NQF report. “The strategies outlined in this report to make data more accessible are critical to making data useful, and in turn will meaningfully improve the healthcare system.”

    NQF staff and project participants will review comments and refine recommendations during a June 30 web meeting that is open to the public.