What is the national quality forum (NQF)?

Primary care physicians recognize the need to provide quality care to their patients. The challenge for them comes when they are required to measure and report that quality. With the shift toward value-based care, in particular, the administrative burden for reporting has increased for independent physicians. Provider organizations are working to help alleviate some of the burden, or at least make the reporting requirements make a little more sense. One of those organizations is the National Quality Forum (NQF).

The NQF states that its mission is to “lead national collaboration to improve health and healthcare quality through measurement.” A recent HealthAffairs Blog post described the NQF as an organization that “is addressing physician concerns about measuring what matters on multiple fronts.”

When quality reporting requirements are tied to payments, often the independent physician faces the challenge of balancing the administrative tasks with the need to focus on patient care. As HealthAffairs Blog reports, the NQF is “uniquely positioned to prioritize the measures we should use to improve patient care, to identify and reduce measures of lesser value, and to align and harmonize the use of good measures across care settings, payers, physicians, and other clinicians.”

The NQF was established in 1999 by a coalition of public- and private-sector leaders as a result of a recognition that such an organization was necessary to “promote and ensure patient protections and healthcare quality.” The organization is also focused on advocating for independent physicians by reviewing and recommending measurements and reporting requirements.

In July 2016, the organization implemented a strategic plan “to lead, prioritize, and collaborate to drive measurement that can result in better, safer, and more affordable healthcare for patients, providers, and payers.” The plan moves the NQF to a “future, proactive state where we also lead and contribute to:

  • accelerating development of needed measures;
  • identifying priority measures;
  • reducing, selecting, and endorsing measures;
  • driving more effective implementation of priority measures; and
  • better understanding what works and what doesn’t work in measurement.