Disparities in healthcare have been linked to inadequate resources, poor patient-provider communication, a lack of culturally competent care, and inadequate linguistic access, among other factors. In order to promote equal treatment of all patients who enter the healthcare system and reduce healthcare disparities in health outcomes, the healthcare system must be deliberate about addressing these factors and mitigating their impact. Accurate and meaningful metrics that consider for socioeconomic and demographic patient factors, as well as, measures that address healthcare disparities and culturally competent care are needed to create a long-term agenda for improving healthcare quality. These measures are essential to promoting the health of populations adversely affected by disparities and ensuring equitable allocation of healthcare resources.
Since 2006, NQF has embarked on several efforts focused on disparities including:
To build on NQF’s prior efforts focused on disparities, NQF will convene a Disparities Standing Committee (DSC) to complement the extensive work in quality measurement to provide a cross-cutting emphasis on healthcare disparities across all of NQF’s work. The Committee would not be asked to serve as a primary reviewer of performance measures. Instead, their primary role would be to serve as a resource for all of NQF’s activities, including measure evaluation, selection, consideration of use, and improvement. The DSC will provide guidance to the Consensus Standards Approval Committee (CSAC), Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) and NQF Standing Committees. As appropriate, the DSC may make recommendations regarding evaluation criteria to the CSAC.
Related NQF Work
- Socioeconomic Status (SES) Trial Period
NQF is conducting a two-year trial of a temporary policy change that will allow risk-adjustment of performance measures for socioeconomic status (SES) and other demographic factors.
- Home and Community-Based Services Quality
This project will develop a conceptual framework and perform an environmental scan to address performance measure gaps in home and community-based services to enhance the quality of community living.
- Rural Health
Under contract with HHS, this project will allow NQF—through a multistakeholder, collaborative process—to provide recommendations to HHS regarding performance measurement issues for rural and low-volume providers.
- Healthcare Disparities and Cultural Competency Measures Project
In August 2012, NQF endorsed 12 measures focused on healthcare disparities and culturally competent care for racial and ethnic minority populations. These measures are the first endorsed by NQF that specifically address healthcare disparities and cultural competency. A commissioned paper on measurement concepts for healthcare disparities, completed in September 2011, served as the foundation for measure development in the field.
Press Release | Endorsement Summary (PDF)
- MAP Report: Measuring Healthcare Quality for the Dual Eligible Beneficiary Population
The diverse dual eligible population includes some of the sickest and most vulnerable individuals covered by either Medicare or Medicaid. Rapid improvement in caring for these beneficiaries would in some ways represent the perfect “bull’s-eye” of achieving the National Quality Strategy goals of healthier people, better care, and more affordable care. Performance measures are central to understanding our progress in improving quality. In this report, the Measure Applications Partnership outlines a vision for high-quality care that seeks to address the fragmented and episodic nature of the care the dual eligible population receives.