October 5, 2012 Back to All Blogs

National Quality Forum

The Power of Partnership

Platform to Compare Health Quality Measures Called “Visionary”

When an organization chooses a technology vendor, it must decide whether it wants a vendor or a partner.

What’s the difference? In Pantheon’s view, a vendor will come in and fix a specific problem or provide a service. A partner will take the relationship to the next level by learning and knowing enough about the organization, its mission and its business environment to become a true extension of the team. Ultimately, the best partnerships are measured by the degree to which they help the organization further its mission and achievements build on one another. That’s what the National Quality Forum has found over the course of its relationship with Pantheon.

The NQF was founded in 1999 to build a national consensus on quality standards and priorities and endorse national consensus standards for measuring and publicly reporting on performance. NQF’s work has taken on increased significance in recent years, as a move from a procedure-based payment model to one based on the quality of patient outcomes is a central element of healthcare reform legislation at the state and national levels.

NQF first engaged Pantheon for website development assistance and then, as the organization was growing quickly, turned to Pantheon for solutions to help scale its internal processes. The first result was a workflow management system, OPUS, that allowed NQF to streamline processes and increase the accuracy and transparency of data  as part of NQF’s nine-step process of endorsing standards.

Development of the system required analysis of NQF’s business process, the market, internal data use and the way external stakeholders used and submitted data. Pantheon developed structures to allow staff to locate information quickly and implemented mechanisms to help ensure adherence to important protocols. Reports that once took hours to complete could now be completed in minutes, increasing the speed with which NQF staff could provide information to external stakeholders.  Over time, NQF has come to value Pantheon’s understanding of its business processes and mission.

OPUS eventually became the platform for a groundbreaking service that gives stakeholders easy access to the more than 700 quality standards NQF has endorsed since 1999 and the ability to weigh in on those standards. Previously, those who needed to use NQF-Endorsed® standards often had a hard time locating the standards they needed. For example, a search for “heart disease” on the NQF website might not have produced any results, even though many endorsed measures existed. Those who utilized the standards—including health plans, quality measure developers, professional medical societies and others—also had no way of providing direct feedback on them.

As the health care industry increased its focus on quality of care, NQF recognized that feedback from those using the standards would be extremely valuable in increasing the effectiveness of quality measures.  With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NQF worked with Pantheon to create the Quality Positioning System, which allows users to locate NQF-Endorsed® standards quickly and easily, develop and share their own “portfolios” of measures according to their interests, and view the portfolios of other users.

Now, a user who searches for “heart disease” will find more than 30 related performance measures on topics related to heart disease. Each is listed by measure title, steward, date updated and relevance to the search topic. Users who want to compare measures or portfolios can easily do so with the “compare” feature, which allows them to view and compare the measures side-by-side in a column format. Users might want to use the comparisons for research, development of new measures or to determine which measures would be most appropriate to apply to their areas of interest. QPS was NQF’s first foray into directly connecting with end users. Users and stakeholders quickly recognized the value of the tool and the insight it provides. QPS has been called “visionary” by key project stakeholders. Users are enthusiastically providing feedback and ideas to improve QPS.