JCAHO and CMS to work jointly on quality measures

JCAHO and CMS recently announced the signing of an agreement to work together in completely aligning current and future common Hospital Quality Measures in their condition-specific performance measure sets.

The current Hospital Quality Measures are included in JCAHO’s ORYX Core Measures and CMS’ 7th Scope of Work Quality of Care Measures on heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical infection prevention. CMS and JCAHO released and made available on their web sites a common measures specification manual, which includes a data dictionary, measure information forms, algorithms and other technical support information. The specification manual can be found on the Joint Commission web site, www.jcaho.org/pms/core+measures/aligned_manual.htm.

The intent is to achieve total identity of common measures by the time that data collection for January patient discharges begin, JCAHO president Dennis S. O’Leary, MD, explained when announcing the agreement. The intended measure alignment will make it easier and less costly for hospitals to comply with existing CMS and JCAHO requirements for data collection and reporting. The measures in the four JCAHO and CMS hospital measure sets presently in use calculate the same way, but there are differences in the format of the specifications for data elements, types of cases excluded, calculation algorithms, and other measure dimensions.

CMS administrator Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, says the plan will make it "easier for hospitals to report on the quality of their services, making it even easier for beneficiaries to make apples-to-apples comparisons. This leads to improvements in the quality of care available in all hospitals."