WASHINGTON – The National Quality Forum released a framework for quality measures in telehealth last month as adoption of the service increases.
“People are going to get medical care, and one of the ways we’ll deliver it is telemedicine,” said Dr. Judd Hollander, co-chairman of the NQF telehealth framework committee, during a webinar presented when the framework was released. “But we have to know how to measure and report on quality and figure out how we can inform reimbursement in an evidence-based manner.”
The work was commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend various methods to measure the use of telehealth as a means of providing care. The committee reviewed more than 60 telehealth studies and included live video telehealth, store and forward, remote monitoring and mobile health apps.
The committee broke down the measures into four domains: access to care; financial impact/cost; experience; and effectiveness. It then composed a final list of six areas for measurement that it considered the highest priority: travel; timeliness of care; actionable information; added value of telehealth to provide evidence-based best practices; patient empowerment; and care coordination. Additionally, it developed more than 70 quality measures in five categories: chronic disease; dermatology; rehabilitation, care coordination; and mental and behavioral health.
As the framework is further developed, the committee suggested that existing quality measures previously identified by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Medcaid & Medicare Services and NQF must be widely accepted and impactful. There also needs to be a consensus to define terms and measures for proposed concepts.
“Without a standard, uniform definition for measures, it will be difficult to synthesize findings and assess telehealth’s impact,” the committee wrote.