NCQA’s new, game-changing cardiovascular risk measure passed its first round of testing with flying colors last month with researchers reporting no significant hitches in terms of data collection. The Global Cardiovascular Risk (GCVR) measure is the first of a new generation of true “outcomes” measures that rely on data collected through electronic health records.
Testing of the measure began last August with a cohort of nearly a dozen cardiologists, internists and family practice physicians. To satisfy the demands of the GCVR measure, researchers had to mine EHRs for between 50 and 60 data elements per patient. This included difficult-to-access elements related to medications. Even so, researchers generated more than 250,000 usable patient data profiles, far beyond the 20,000 needed to validate a typical measure.
NCQA’s Director of Performance Measurement, Ben Hamlin, who headed this first trial of the GCVR measure, is now looking forward to phase II testing and not just because the measure has been validated operationally. “There was a lot of enthusiasm for the measure,” said Hamlin. “Physicians understand that measuring outcomes – instead of whether their patients hit a particular biometric target — gives them a lot more flexibility to treat their patients in the best, most efficient way possible.”
The flexibility of the GCVR measure is no small thing. Unlike traditional performance measures that require providers to aim for a particular biometric target (e.g., “Did all your patients control their blood pressure below 140/80?), the GCVR measure asks an ultimately much more clinically meaningful question, “Did you lower your patients’ future risk of an adverse cardiac event?”
As always, NCQA is looking for feedback on the draft measure and volunteers for future rounds of testing. Interested parties should contact Ben Hamlin directly at Hamlin@ncqa.org
Frank Micciche is NCQA’s Vice President of Public Policy and Communications. In this position, he directs NCQA’s relations with Congress, federal agencies and the states, as well as NCQA’s work with the media and other external audiences.