ONC Announces Launch of Clinical Quality Framework Initiative

March 24, 2014 in News

Last week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT launched a Clinical Quality Framework initiative that will work to integrate guidelines for clinical decision support and electronic clinical quality measurement, according to a “Health IT Buzz” blog post by ONC’s Office of Science and Technology Director Doug Fridsma, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 3/21).


In June 2012, ONC established the Health eDecision project, which:

  • Developed three implementation guides for clinical decision support standards;
  • Evaluated and harmonized such standards; and
  • Established six HL7 standards, using a framework from the HL7 Clinical Decision Support Work Group (Fridsma, “Health IT Buzz” blog post, 3/20). 

The Clinical Quality Framework will build on the project, which ends March 27 (Health Data Management, 3/21).

Details of Framework

Kensaku Kawamoto — co-coordinator of the initiative and director of the University of Utah Health Care’s Knowledge Management and Mobilization Initiative — said a lack of common standards between clinical decision support and electronic clinical quality measurement is a burden to health IT vendors and health care providers.

The goal of the initiative is to “identify those things that should be in common and find a common language to describe things that are the same and different,” according to Fridsma.

Marc Hadley, another co-coordinator of the initiative and a senior software systems engineer at MITRE, said officials are aiming to have much of the initiative’s work done in time for Stage 3 of the meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

The team leading the initiative will hold its first meeting on April 3 and will meet each week while the project is underway. After a kickoff event on May 14, the initiative will begin:

  • Implementing specifications;
  • Creating feedback; and
  • Revising proposed standards based on feedback received.


Amy Helwig, ONC’s acting chief medical officer, said the initiative represents a “new endeavor in quality improvement.”

Helwig added, “Doing one or the other alone doesn’t always lead to improvement” but “[w]e’re working to link quality measures to [clinical decision support] so providers can measure performance and work to improve” (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 3/21).

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