EHR measure aims at halting heart disease

EHR measure aims at preventing heart disease and diabetes

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) will evaluate a new measurement tool intended to improve the care and outcomes of patients with heart disease and diabetes.

The Global Cardiovascular Risk score, or GCVR, co-developed by NCQA and San Francisco-based healthcare modeling and analytics company Archimedes Inc., will measure how well providers are able to reduce the risk of future adverse outcomes in their patient populations. The GCVR tool will draw upon information culled from EHRs to provide data that will assess improvement in preventing less-than-optimal outcomes.

“This new tool has the potential to become the first customized, outcomes-based electronic health record measure used by Medicare and commercial payers,” said Margaret E. O’Kane, NCQA president, in a press release. “Its widespread adoption could have a profound impact on healthcare costs because it assesses how well providers engage in prevention and goal-setting for their high-risk patients.”

Under a grant form the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the NCQA will evaluate whether it is feasible to collect data from EHRs to calculate measurable results for different providers and provider organizations and collect feedback from providers on whether the new measurement tool and the associated GCVR score is a meaningful tool for predicting risk.

“The GCVR program will change how providers, patients and payers think about the measurement of quality and will provide much more accurate and effective incentives for preventing adverse outcomes than has been possible in the past,” said David Eddy, MD, founder of Archimedes, in a prepared statement. “Preventing bad outcomes is the ultimate purpose of the healthcare system, and this measure will directly address that goal.”

The GCVR score is meant to change the traditional approach of quality measurements that focus on the processes of care while reaching what a joint press release of NCQA and RWJF said are “clinically artificial treatment goals for biomarkers."

Instead the new approach will focus on actual health outcomes, something the traditional measures do little to address. The GCVR measure provides a single metric that shows how much a patient’s risk of a future adverse outcome has been reduced. The intent is to provide a single metric to providers that shows a clear path on how to improve future outcomes.

According to Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, an organization whose member companies provide health benefits to more than 55 million people, the GCVR will also help employers choose their health benefits either by comparing providers or the health plans themselves. The information about the outcomes -- as opposed to simply a measure indicating that the provider did what they were “supposed” to do in their treatment regimen -- is the big difference.

“If what we are trying to do is prevent disease and not just treat disease, then we want to be able to have a quantitative way to estimate what is going to be the most effective and that is what this tool does,” Darling said in a YouTube video explaining the benefits of the GCVR tool.

Over the next 18 months, NCQA will evaluate the feasibility of extracting the electronic health data it needs to calculate the measure from a number of health systems and health plans that use EHRs from around the country. It is now in the process of recruiting organizations to participate. Data collection and analysis will occur over the summer and fall with NCQA anticipating it will release a report of the findings by summer 2014.