The format acts behind the scenes. End users of quality measures, like providers who record quality data, won't see the HQMF. It will serve as an infrastructure for measures developers, who will use the format to encode a quality measure with metadata, definitions and logic that make that measure readable electronically. Electronic health record vendors will then use the electronic measures to map EHR data, and analysts will use the logic in the format to assess that data.
But providers will see the benefit of having measures in electronic form, Kallem said. Having the HQMF embedded in quality measures would allow users to skip the step that requires them to interpret information from paper as they enter data into an electronic system for analysis, and make data analysis easier, she said.
The format has been developed in collaboration with several other organizations including the National Quality Forum, AHIMA and Alschuler Associates. The HL7 work stemmed from a prototype of the format developed in collaboration with the American Medical Association, National Committee for Quality Assurance and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's Electronic Health Records Association, Kallem said.
Current quality measures will be retooled to work on this format and future measures will be developed using the infrastructure, according to HL7. The NQF will work with developers to retool current measures so that the specifications now in paper form will be expressed in the electronic format, Kallem said.
The format is going through HL7's ballot process now. The organization is reviewing comments it has received and will make an assessment on whether the format is ready to become a draft standard for use by December. The format also will be tested through the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel, a public-private partnership that aims to harmonize standards for use in healthcare.
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