Apply Patient Outcomes Measures to Telehealth Programs, Avoid Unnecessary Measure Development, URAC Advises

doctors walking with patient on a guerney

In comments submitted on June 30, 2017 to the National Quality Forum’s draft framework for telehealth measures, URAC expresses its support of the NQF telehealth committee’s report and provides recommendations.

NQF released its report, “Creating a Framework to Support Measure Development for Telehealth” on June 1 for public comment. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the report recommends metrics to measure the quality of telehealth programs.

URAC agrees with the report’s recommendations that telehealth be included as part of care delivery – and that existing measures assessing patient outcomes can be appropriately applied to telehealth programs.

One important issue not addressed in the NQF report is cybersecurity. How can providers reassure regulators and patients that critical data is properly secured, yet accessible? URAC recommends that NQF review the issues of cybersecurity in telehealth, and evaluate how the appropriateness of measures to assess performance.

Measures that address the quality of the telehealth program as evidence by patient outcomes should be strongly encouraged, URAC states in its comments.  But care should be taken when developing new measures. Some concepts are better addressed through evidence-based standards rather than a metric.

Also, URAC cautions that unnecessary measure development may contribute to “measures fatigue” – something that physicians are currently experiencing in the transition to value-based reimbursement models.

An accreditation program validates the quality of the organization’s operations based on evidence-based, nationally recognized best practices. As an organization whose mission it is to advance the quality of healthcare through leadership, accreditation, measurement and innovation, URAC believes that accreditation is an effective way to ensure quality in telehealth services.

Photo credit: InTouch Health