• The National Quality Forum’s (NQF) Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) today submitted recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for 35 standardized performance measures under consideration for use in federal healthcare programs. These federal programs affect 58 million Americans enrolled in Medicare and their healthcare providers.

    “MAP’s work provides compelling, expert guidance to the federal government on meaningful measures of care quality,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil, NQF’s president and CEO. “The rich discussion around MAP’s tables this year focused on the importance of outcome measures, which have a strong presence on the MUC list, as well as the value of NQF endorsement. MAP also emphasized the need to adjust measures for social risk, where appropriate, and to ensure that measures accurately capture which provider ultimately is responsible for a patient’s health outcomes.”

    In its recommendations to HHS, MAP conveyed varying degrees of support for all but one of the 35 measures under consideration, a measure of lumbar spine imaging that HHS is considering for the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) program. MAP did not support this measure because it is no longer NQF-endorsed. MAP relies on NQF endorsement to ensure that a measure reflects high-quality, evidence-based care and provides consistent and accurate information about provider performance.

    MAP supported six measures and conditionally supported 25 measures (a designation most commonly made to note support of a measure pending NQF endorsement). MAP recommended refinements to three measures, reflecting support of the measure concepts with a need for further testing or potential changes to the measures to ensure that they are scientifically sound. One of these measures is intended to help address the growing opioid epidemic by assessing continuous pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder. Prior to its use in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), MAP recommended that the measure be tested and evaluated for NQF endorsement to ensure that it accurately assesses physician and practice-level performance. The measure is currently endorsed for use by health plans and states.

    NQF has convened MAP annually since 2010, bringing together more than 200 healthcare leaders and experts from over 110 private- and public-sector organizations to provide recommendations on the highest-impact measures that will improve health and healthcare for Medicare beneficiaries. MAP volunteers represent consumers, purchasers, employers, health plans, clinicians and providers, communities and states, suppliers, and federal agency liaisons. The MAP Coordinating Committee and its hospital, clinician, post-acute and long-term care workgroups, with input from its rural workgroup, identify measurement gaps across settings, prioritize high-impact measures, and recommend alignment of measures across federal programs.

    NQF will publish its final reports for hospital and post-acute settings on February 15 and its report for clinician programs on March 15. Those reports will include recommendations on potential ways to improve the programs and the measures used in them, including guidance on criteria for HHS when considering which measures to remove from federal programs and potential areas for future measures.

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