Leading Next-Generation Healthcare Quality

The Challenge:

The lack of efficiency in traditional quality measurement is estimated to cost physician practices and healthcare organizations more than $15.4 billion annually. These methods fail to empower organizations, lack timely and accurate insights, and cost providers and the entire healthcare system exponentially more time and money than fully electronic and next-generation technology. The advent of Clinical Quality Language (CQL), an HL7 industry standard clinical logic expression language designed to support computable clinical logic for quality measures, clinical decision support and eCase reporting, provides a mechanism to standardized quality measures across the industry. CQL-based digital measure content continues to grow and is expected to be the ubiquitous measure specification language within the next few years. While the benefits are clear, many organizations are apprehensive about making the transition to digital measurement. The Joint Commission, the nation’s accreditation agency for healthcare organizations (HCOs), believes in standardized quality measurement and was one of the first to leverage it to transform its operations.

Who was involved in the innovation?

Under the leadership of Executive Vice President, Division of Health Care Quality Evaluation, Dr. David W. Baker, The Joint Commission wanted to further empower their accredited hospitals and HCOs by adopting digital measures to provide more valuable and timely insights and reduce the required resources to do so. The agency leveraged the scalable environment of the Apervita VitalTM Platform and components of Apervita’s Quality Measurement Solutions to design the cloud-based Direct Data Submission Platform (DDSP), a cost-effective, efficient solution that enables the agency’s accredited HCOs to directly and quickly submit eCQM data while empowering them with continuous performance insights to proactively manage quality improvement. The DDSP was created in a matter of months and enables HCOs to specify, develop, test, and execute digital measures/eCQMs, and create and distribute applications that use them, at scale and within a cloud environment—an industry-first.

David W. Baker, Executive Vice President,Division of Health Care Quality Evaluation, The Joint Commission

“What we’ve accomplished during the last two years with the Direct Data Submission Platform (DDSP) has delivered ongoing value to our accredited hospitals.”

Dr. David W. Baker, Executive Vice President,
Division of Health Care Quality Evaluation, The Joint Commission 

What the innovation entailed:

Harnessing the power of digital measurement, the DDSP streamlined the costly and tedious process of quality measurement, including the process of transporting and normalizing data from thousands of hospitals. The DDSP provides a HIPAA-compliant, standards-based data ingestion and connection mechanism for HCOs to upload their data to The Joint Commission. With the DDSP, hospitals no longer have to send large copies of data through intermediary vendors to The Joint Commission. Instead, the DDSP, powered by Apervita, provides a streamlined mechanism to manage The Joint Commission’s annual quality requirements, at scale and on one platform. From an administrative perspective, users leverage Apervita’s robust affiliation framework which streamlines the complex web of relationships that exist within healthcare organizations. Through the affiliation management capabilities, a new user can be securely provisioned onto the DDSP within minutes and is promptly asked to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) and End-user License Agreement (EULA). Once onboarded, hospitals upload their data to Apervita’s collaboration platform in a secure location controlled by each individual hospital. The data is uploaded in the same format required by CMS programs, alleviating the burden of creating two separate files. Hospitals then can review their data quality, execute quality measure logic, and view measurement results immediately. Once a hospital is ready to submit, results are available in near real-time to both The Joint Commission and the participating hospital.

Results generated:

Better and faster insights

With the DDSP, annual accreditation requirements are no longer a regulatory “box to check” but an opportunity to reduce burden and provide added value, including continuous access to quality reports, robust data visualizations, and pre-submission performance analytics. These capabilities provide participating hospitals the opportunity to identify clinical areas for improvement and proactively intervene to close care gaps in real-time through improved clinical documentation.

Reduced costs and transparency

The DDSP was introduced to The Joint Commission in 2018; within a year, over 1,000 HCOs were onboarded. As of today, there are over 3,200 HCOs using the submission platform. Previously, HCOs spent between $20,000–$50,000 annually on quality measurement tools to meet regulatory requirements for accreditation. By partnering with Apervita, The Joint Commission has empowered its accredited hospitals to submit their information directly, saving time and money for accredited healthcare organizations. Unlike other vendor solutions that utilize proprietary tools to manage standardized measurements, the groundbreaking DDSP leverages standardized digital measurement and provides full transparency into measurement logic and results.

Kevin Hutchinson, CEO, Apervita

“The Joint Commission’s commitment to reducing burden for providers is clear in their innovative work in quality measurement.”

Kevin Hutchinson, CEO, Apervita

Driving the industry forward

The Joint Commission was the first organization to transform its operations at scale utilizing digital measurement, trailblazing the future for others to transition their own operations. “What we’ve accomplished during the last two years with the Direct Data Submission Platform has delivered ongoing value to our accredited hospitals,” said The Joint Commission’s Dr. David W. Baker.

“The Joint Commission’s commitment to reducing burden for providers is clear in their innovative work in quality measurement,” said Apervita CEO Kevin Hutchinson. “The DDSP is a great example of how the industry can benefit from next-gen quality measurement, coupled with a scalable collaboration platform to reduce costs while delivering value to providers, and ultimately, their patients. I have no doubt other organizations will follow their lead in the transition to digital measurement.”

Reprinted with permission from Healthcare Innovation, July/August 2021

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