Quality measure standardization on its way, CMS says

Skilled nursing facilities must standardize six of the eight measure domains laid out by the IMPACT Act to begin in October 2016, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials told providers Wednesday.

The IMPACT Act, which was signed into law in October 2014, requires skilled nursing facilities, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and home health agencies to submit standardized patient assessment data. Data standardization can move providers toward the “sweet spot” of uniformity, and help patients progress easier through the care continuum, said Tara McMullen, Ph.D., MPH, during an MLN Connects provider call

“In the current state, we collect on many items that on the surface level are standardized, but there is no one common language and data is not interoperable,” McMullen said.

The overall goal for standardizing data is to strengthen engagement of patients and their families as partners in care; promote effective prevention and treatment of chronic disease; and promote effective communication and coordination of care for patients. Last year McMullen said CMS wanted to compare “apples to apples.”

The implementation timelines for data standardization vary based on provider type. Skilled nursing facilities should begin submitted standardized data on Oct. 1, 2016, for the following quality measure domains:

  • Functional status, cognitive function and changes in cognitive function

  • Skin integrity and changes in skin integrity

  • Incidence of major falls

  • Total estimated Medicare spending per beneficiary

  • Discharge to community

  • Measure to reflect all-condition, risk-adjusted and potentially preventable hospital readmission rates

The remaining quality measures — communicating the existence of and providing for the transfer of health information and care preferences and medication reconciliation — will begin Oct. 1, 2018.

“The IMPACT Act allows us to collect data so that data follows the person as they traverse the care continuum,” McMullen said. “[Standardization] really focuses on creating this longitudinal source of information so we can better compare all individuals as they traverse the post-acute care settings.”