NQF Report Shows How Opioid and Mental Health Quality Measures Are Key to Tracking, Preventing Overdoses and Deaths 

SEP 27, 2022

CONTACT: Zachary Brousseau

NQF Report Shows How Opioid and Mental Health Quality Measures Are Key to Tracking, Preventing Overdoses and Deaths
New report presents use cases, solutions to common barriers, and guiding principles for implementing Opioids and Behavioral Health Measurement Framework

Washington, DC – The National Quality Forum (NQF) has released a report designed to help bolster efforts to monitor and prevent opioid-related deaths and overdoses, which have increased at an alarming rate since 2019. U.S. drug overdose deaths were in decline between 2018 and 2019 but have since surged by almost 46 percent as factors like increasing use of synthetic opioids have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Opioid-related deaths rose to more than 80,000 in 2021 and account for 75 percent of all overdose-related fatalities. People with both a substance use disorder (SUD) or opioid use disorder (OUD) and co-occurring behavioral health conditions are especially at risk, but monitoring and treating the nearly 10 million adults who fall into this category can be very difficult.

With funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), NQF convened an expert committee that developed the Opioids and Behavioral Health Measurement Framework and report released last year. The committee was reconvened this year to develop additional guidance to help health systems, providers, payers, and other stakeholders successfully implement the framework, resulting in a new iteration of the report, Addressing Opioid-Related Outcomes Among Individuals With Co-occurring Behavioral Health Conditions.

Recognizing the real-world challenges that can hinder implementation efforts, the report presents actionable strategies, case exemplars, and solutions to overcome common barriers. It also outlines opportunities for coordination and partnerships across care settings and guiding principles for stakeholders to adapt and improve their readiness in a rapidly changing landscape.

“Providers and payers caring for people struggling with co-occurring substance use and behavioral health conditions need evidence-based strategies to reverse the tragic increase in opioid-related overdoses and deaths,” said Dana Gelb Safran, ScD, President & CEO, NQF. “It is imperative to collect and analyze relevant data in order to develop and deploy effective overdose prevention efforts and improve the quality of care for these vulnerable populations.”

While quality measures related to opioid use, misuse, and behavioral health exist, there is an urgent need for measures that address the overlap between substance use and behavioral health conditions. The framework identifies three essential, interdependent categories for measurement. The first, and broadest category is Equitable Access, which is foundational to improving outcomes and addressing mortality. Once access is established, the second category, Clinical Interventions, can be implemented and measured. The third category, Integrated and Comprehensive Care for Concurrent Behavioral Health Conditions, is necessary to ensure person-centered care across healthcare settings.


About National Quality Forum
The National Quality Forum (NQF) works with members of the healthcare community to drive measurable health improvements together. NQF is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization that gives all healthcare stakeholders a voice in advancing quality measures and improvement strategies that lead to better outcomes and greater value. Learn more at www.qualityforum.org.