NCQA Digital Quality Summit – What You Must Know

With over 750 professionals from all corners of the health care space in attendance, a great line up of expert speakers and engaging breakout sessions, the 2020 edition of the annual NCQA Digital Quality Summit proved to be informative and thought provoking despite the remote gathering.  Topics ranged from technical discussions on measure development and the future of audit programs to policy initiatives and current events that are shaping and accelerating the evolution of digital quality measurement.  Here are a few takeaways from the meeting:

1) “Seize This Opportunity”

This is a phrase that we have heard a lot lately, and at the Digital Quality Summit it was a persistent and very relevant theme.  The pandemic has brought into clear focus the need to have access to patient centered data both for clinical decision support as well as timely and accurate measurement of impact and progress.  The measurement community moves with caution and is often slow to accept new modes of care, but in response to the pandemic numerous flexibilities have been unleashed by CMS and others in an attempt to quantify the quality of care provided by a health care system that itself is experiencing trauma.  One such flexibility is the incorporation of telehealth encounters for some 40 HEDIS® measures.  It’s uncertain how many of the recent flexibilities will persist, but we can be certain telemedicine, as an acceptable mode of care for measurement, is here to stay.

2) “Health Equity in Measure Design”

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation on the ROI of health equity and quality improvement by Danielle Brooks, Director of Health Equity at AmeriHealth Caritas.  The important take away for me from this discussion was that in the ever accelerating push to advance digital health care, perhaps we run the risk of solving one problem for a segment of the population while ignoring, or worse, exacerbating existing disparities in care.  As we advance digital health technologies, it’s critical that there is engagement from diverse points of view, to better understand all possible barriers to adopting new technology.  By not thinking about health equity in design, we risk ignoring the most vulnerable.

3) “FHIR is Hot”

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) is fast becoming the standard for joining systems together using an application-based approach to interoperability and the exchange of health information.  Unlike the traditional Consolidated-Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA), the flexibility of the FHIR standard can create a world where highly targeted, new measure queries can be quickly developed and deployed. 

Finally, the overarching takeaway is that digital health and measurement is advancing daily, and to be successful it is going to require the coordination and contribution from an extensive and diverse set of stakeholders.  To encourage this type of collaboration, NCQA has launched a new Digital Measurement Community that I urge everyone to look into and participate in.

About The Author

Mike Curran is VP of Quality/HEDIS for Reveleer. He has worked in Managed Care for 25 years and brings extensive management and operations experience to Reveleer, as well as proven ability to build high performing, results-focused teams. Prior to joining Reveleer, he came from United Healthcare where he was the National Director for Clinical Performance Improvement. Mike is a graduate of St. Anselm College where he earned a degree in Politics and Boston University where he earned his Master of Public Health degree.