In new reports on telehealth and the interoperability of electronic health information, committees of the National Quality Forum (NQF) outlined recommendations for issue areas critical to the use of health information technology to advance health care.

At the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services, NQF convened telehealth and interoperability committees to conduct reviews of existing metrics and measurement gaps. The committees include members of America’s Essential Hospitals: Nate Gladwell, director of telehealth and telemedicine at University of Utah Health Care, serves on the telehealth committee and David Kaelber, chief medical informatics officer and vice president for health informatics at MetroHealth System, serves on the interoperability committee.

Telehealth Report

The telehealth committee stressed the growing importance of telehealth, given its integral role in advanced alternative payment models and the shift in clinician payment to the Quality Payment Program.

The committee identified four domains for its telehealth measurement framework: access to care, financial impact/cost, experience, and effectiveness. Within the four domains, the committee finalized a list of six priority areas for future telehealth measure development:

  • actionable information;
  • added value of telehealth to provide evidence-based best practices;
  • care coordination;
  • patient empowerment;
  • timeliness of care; and
  • travel.

Interoperability Report

The interoperability committee defined interoperability as “the ability of a system to exchange electronic health information with and use electronic health information from other systems without special effort on the part of the user.” To better gauge progress in achieving interoperability and fulfilling the mandate of the 21st Century Cures Act, the committee identified a framework for measuring interoperability.

The committee identified four domains for its measure development framework: the exchange, usability, application and impact of electronic health information. Using these domains and corresponding subdomains, the committee identified 53 measure concepts and 36 existing measures of interoperability.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.