NQF calls for quality improvement in Emergency Care

The National Quality Forum (NQF) recently released a series of recommendations calling for the improvement of emergency care quality. The group’s evidence-based recommendations are designed to provide healthcare organizations with standardized methods of measuring, evaluating, and improving emergency care and patient outcomes.

“Patient visits to emergency departments make up a quarter of all visits within the U.S. hospital system. The readiness of healthcare systems to respond to disasters, the timeliness and quality of care for traumatic injuries, and the quality of data used to report chief complaints are issues that touch the lives of people in communities across this nation every day,” said Elisa Munthali, the NQF’s senior vice president of quality measurement, in a release. “NQF is grateful for the leadership and support of the Department of Health and Human Services to advance initiatives that will improve the quality of emergency care.”

The NQF released three reports covering health system readinesstrauma outcomes, and chief complaint-based quality of emergency care.

In its health system readiness report, the NQF convened a panel of experts, which proposed a healthcare system readiness framework to help delivery systems prepare for, mitigate, react to, and recover from a variety of emergency conditions. The report recommends measure concepts that can be developed into an actionable, all-hazards measurement system to assess the readiness of health systems to respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies.

Regarding trauma outcomes, the NQF’s committee on population-based trauma outcomes developed recommendations to help promote shared accountability across relevant stakeholders and encourage quality improvement in trauma care. The recommendations focus on the importance of combining patient-level data from electronic health records systems and other sources, matching trauma patients with the appropriate level of care, and improving coordination and planning of trauma care through collaboration.

The third report provides recommendations that address the challenge of appropriately capturing and categorizing ED visits to improve the quality of care processes; a majority of care provided is driven by the patient’s chief complaint or the most significant symptom or sign of illness. The report calls for a standardized vocabulary to improve data quality and actionable analysis, as well as advance electronic clinical quality measures.