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By Commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy Áron Boros and Commissioner of Public Health John Auerbach

Firmly established as a national leader in guaranteeing health coverage for all its residents, Massachusetts is turning to the next phase of innovation, improving value in the health care system by further increasing quality and reducing cost. While the Commonwealth has long had a reputation for high quality care, a new undertaking offers the promise of sustained, public focus on quality in certain key areas by establishing a minimum set of quality measures to be uniformly reported across the state. This set of measures will ultimately be available for adoption by hospitals, clinics, primary care providers, accountable care organizations (ACOs), and insurance carriers, to help enhance decision making in health care delivery. As was true with Massachusetts Health Care Reform, this effort to transparently focus on quality measurement and improvement may offer a model for the rest of the nation. 

The quality initiative is guided by legislation that directs the Department of Public Health and the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy to form and chair a Statewide Quality Advisory Committee (SQAC) to recommend measures for inclusion in a Standard Quality Measure Set.  The Department of Public Health will later develop regulations advised by these recommendations, requiring uniform public reporting of the Standard Quality Measure Set for a variety of purposes, including driving quality improvement and facilitating informed consumer decision making to ensure that the right care is delivered at the right time, in the right place.

The Committee, which includes representatives from a variety of stakeholders (the full list of members is available at the Committee’s website) met for the second time in mid-February, and is in the process of considering four national measure sets (required by statute) that apply to inpatient hospital and ambulatory settings.

In order to help broaden the recommendations beyond these sets, the Committee is currently soliciting input from the public. The SQAC is currently looking to address three specific priorities identified by the Department of Public Health:

  • efficiency and system performance
  • care transition and coordination
  • high-priority setting and clinical focus areas: 
    • behavioral health
    • post-acute care
    • community and population health. 

All proposed measures will be made public, and the Committee will review the proposals at a future meeting. Any Committee member will then have the opportunity to request that the SQAC formally consider any of the proposed measures for inclusion in the Standard Quality Measure Set through a nomination process. The formal consideration will involve an evaluation of how well a measure meets the priorities described above, as well as an evaluation of the measure’s validity and practicality (the review process and principles are outlined in the Committee Bylaws). 

If you are interested in proposing a measure for consideration, please submit ideas before March 16th on this website: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SQACNomination1.  The site outlines the required information, including technical information about the measure, and information about how the measure is currently being used. 

Stakeholder participation in the nomination process and the work of the SQAC more broadly will help ensure the success of the overall initiative.  We thank you very much for your contributions to this collective effort.   Please email sqac@massmail.state.ma.us if you have any questions and we look forward to reviewing your submissions. 

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