NQF endorses pediatric quality measures

The new metrics gauge physician, hospital and health system performance on processes, not outcomes.

By Kevin B. O’Reilly — Posted Sept. 5, 2011

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The National Quality Forum in August endorsed 41 new measures of pediatric quality covering areas such as asthma, prevention and screening, and patient safety in the hospital.

None of the new standards measures patient outcomes. Instead, they measure how well physicians, hospitals and the health system are doing on processes such as the percentage of children who receive blood pressure screening by age 13.

"There has been such a limited set of child-health quality measures that sometimes we don't even know what the current levels of performance are for highly evidence-based processes that should always be done for kids," said Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, senior vice president of performance measures at the National Quality Forum. "Our hope is that by having this standard measure set we'll get a better handle on what the actual performance is."

The new NQF metrics mark an important step in gauging pediatric quality, said Bruce Bagley, MD, medical director for quality improvement at the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"This is a really good start to help people to put in place the stuff that's accepted according to the guidelines," said Dr. Bagley, who also serves on an NQF standards committee. "The only way to get that to happen is to measure how often that is happening at the practice level. That's what this list is most useful for."

Among the areas covered by the measures are the percentage of patients who receive all immunizations by age 13, depression screening by age 18 and risky behavior assessments in their teens. The NQF project was funded by the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

NQF is a standards-setting organization that counts the American Medical Association as one of hundreds of members. Two of the 41 measures endorsed were developed by the AMA and relate to the evaluation of depression and assessment of suicide risk.

The pediatric quality standards are available for review at the NQF website and can be appealed until Sept. 13.

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External links

National Quality Forum's pediatric quality standards (link)

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