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NQF Provides Guidance to Help Reduce Variation in Healthcare Quality Measures

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A new National Quality Forum (NQF) report provides guidance on reducing unnecessary variation in healthcare quality measures so that measurement can be more uniform and have greater impact on improving care. A 2013 NQF-commissioned analysis from Bailit and Associates identified 1,367 quality measures in use across 48 different state and regional programs. Of these measures, 509 were distinct and the remaining 800+ measures overlapped or had similar focus, with one or more variations in the specifications. While there are numerous reasons why measure developers or implementers develop measure variants, including a need for more innovative measures, NQF’s work focused on how to reduce unintended variation. NQF’s environmental scan identified reasons for measure variation, including end-user preferences, changes to the evidence underlying a measure, or implementation challenges such as access to needed data. The lack of awareness of existing measures also is an important driver of unintended variation. To help reduce variation, the NQF report recommends the development of a comprehensive database of measures that are under development and in use to improve awareness of measures and any variants among those developing or using measures.

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