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NCQA proposes stricter HEDIS measures


WASHINGTON--The National Committee for Quality Assurance has proposed replacing a handful of its longstanding health care performance measures with more stringent ones that will raise the bar in some areas of patient care.

For example, because the measure that assesses whether beta blockers are prescribed after a heart attack has been so effective that now nearly 97% of doctors are prescribing this life-saving therapy, the NCQA is proposing that the Health Plan Employer Data Information Set, or HEDIS, instead track whether patients are keeping up with their beta-blocker treatment six months after a heart attack.

"If you have a heart attack today, it's nearly a given that you'll be prescribed a beta-blocker. That wasn't the case 10 years ago," said NCQA Executive Vp Dr. Greg Pawlson in a statement.

Other proposed changes to the HEDIS measures involve childhood immunizations and several access measures that determine the extent to which children and adolescents see their primary care physician for a checkup.

The relevant sections of the HEDIS 2008 draft proposal can be downloaded from the NCQA Web site, Members of the public are invited to provide input on the measures through March 20, and final standards will be released this summer. Details on how to submit public comment are available on the Web site.

The NCQA's HEDIS program is the most widely used set of health care performance measures, used by health plans and employer-led quality improvement initiatives.