Healthcare Business News

NQF endorses measures for cancer care, care coordination, disparities

By Maureen McKinney
Posted: August 10, 2012 - 12:00 pm ET

The National Quality Forum has endorsed 46 measures related to cancer care, care coordination, healthcare disparities and culturally competent care for racial and ethnic minorities.

The 22 cancer measures—chosen from an initial group of 26—address several specific types of the disease, such as melanoma and prostate cancer, as well as overarching quality-related topics like readmissions, palliative care and utilization of imaging.

“Cancer care is often complex, with many patients facing complicated treatment regimens, individualized therapies and rapidly changing evidence for existing treatments,” Dr. Stephen Lutz, a radiation oncologist at Blanchard Valley Regional Cancer Center, Findlay, Ohio, and chair of the NQF's cancer steering committee, said in a news release. “This measure set will help address those complexities and promote the delivery of high-quality cancer care.”

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NQF also endorsed 12 care-coordination measures covering areas such as medication reconciliation, use of advance-care plans and other metrics related to healthcare across different settings. Fragmented care and poor communication are costly and can greatly increase the likelihood of adverse events, according to the organization, citing data from the Institute of Medicine that estimates care coordination efforts could save as much as $240 billion annually.

Dr. Donald Casey, co-chair of the care coordination steering committee, said the measures are a good start toward improving continuity of care. “Even though we currently lack comprehensive quality measurements of effective care coordination, these endorsed measures help set the stage for the future,” said Casey, who until recently was chief medical officer and vice president for quality for three-hospital Atlantic Health, Morristown, N.J.

The 12 additional measures addressing racial and ethnic disparities and culturally competent care mark the first time NQF has looked specifically at such measures for endorsement, according to the organization. The measures cover health literacy, language services and patient engagement, among other topics.

“Accurate and meaningful metrics to measure care quality for populations adversely affected by disparities are critically needed,” Laura Miller, NQF's interim CEO, said in the release. “These endorsed measures will be instrumental in promoting equitable, high-quality and compassionate care for all populations across the healthcare delivery system.”

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