Sustainable Telehealth: Clinical Quality Measures

By Jim Tate, EMR Advocate
Twitter: @jimtate, eMail:
Host of The Tate Chronicles#TateDispatches

The COVID-19 pandemic in the Spring of 2020 disrupted the normal process of healthcare delivery in the US. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 many elective procedures and surgeries were postponed. Patients did not want to go to their provider’s office, and providers did not want them to come in. As a result, a rush to adopt telehealth technology took place in a matter of weeks. In many cases it was not the best way for providers to deliver healthcare, it was the only way. One major impact was the effect on Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs).

The most concise definition of the importance of CQMs is from CMS: “CQMs provide a standardized means of measuring and comparing delivery of care.” The collection and reporting of clinical data through CQMs in an objective way to determine the quality of delivered healthcare. Often reimbursement and professional reputation can rise or fall based on a provider’s standing subject to their reported CQMs. With the sudden disruption of the established process of healthcare delivery due to the pandemic, CMS felt it necessary to provide clarification and guidance on the effect of telehealth on CQMs.

CMS has recently released two documents relating to Electronic Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs) for reporting years 2020 and 2021. eCQMS are quality measures that are generated from data that has been electronically extracted from digital health records. It is important to note that some of these telehealth related eCQMs cannot be completed without some additional non-telehealth activity.

Attention to detail and continued awareness of regulatory updates related to CQMs is critical for the foreseeable future for healthcare providers. To successfully adapt to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on telehealth related eCQMs it will be necessary to understand changes affecting the acquisition and reporting of data that is the foundation of CQMs. Basic information from CMS on eCQMs can be found at: Electronic Clinical Quality Measure Basics (eCQM 101).

This article was originally published on Medivisum and is republished here with permission.