Computing Health Quality Measures Using Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside

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Computing Health Quality Measures Using Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside

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Title: Computing Health Quality Measures Using Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside
Author: Klann, Jeffrey Gordon; Murphy, Shawn Norman

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Citation: Klann, Jeffrey G, and Shawn N Murphy. 2013. Computing health quality measures using informatics for integrating biology and the bedside. Journal of Medical Internet Research 15(4): e75.
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Abstract: Background: The Health Quality Measures Format (HQMF) is a Health Level 7 (HL7) standard for expressing computable Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs). Creating tools to process HQMF queries in clinical databases will become increasingly important as the United States moves forward with its Health Information Technology Strategic Plan to Stages 2 and 3 of the Meaningful Use incentive program (MU2 and MU3). Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside (i2b2) is one of the analytical databases used as part of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC)’s Query Health platform to move toward this goal. Objective: Our goal is to integrate i2b2 with the Query Health HQMF architecture, to prepare for other HQMF use-cases (such as MU2 and MU3), and to articulate the functional overlap between i2b2 and HQMF. Therefore, we analyze the structure of HQMF, and then we apply this understanding to HQMF computation on the i2b2 clinical analytical database platform. Specifically, we develop a translator between two query languages, HQMF and i2b2, so that the i2b2 platform can compute HQMF queries. Methods: We use the HQMF structure of queries for aggregate reporting, which define clinical data elements and the temporal and logical relationships between them. We use the i2b2 XML format, which allows flexible querying of a complex clinical data repository in an easy-to-understand domain-specific language. Results: The translator can represent nearly any i2b2-XML query as HQMF and execute in i2b2 nearly any HQMF query expressible in i2b2-XML. This translator is part of the freely available reference implementation of the QueryHealth initiative. We analyze limitations of the conversion and find it covers many, but not all, of the complex temporal and logical operators required by quality measures. Conclusions: HQMF is an expressive language for defining quality measures, and it will be important to understand and implement for CQM computation, in both meaningful use and population health. However, its current form might allow complexity that is intractable for current database systems (both in terms of implementation and computation). Our translator, which supports the subset of HQMF currently expressible in i2b2-XML, may represent the beginnings of a practical compromise. It is being pilot-tested in two Query Health demonstration projects, and it can be further expanded to balance computational tractability with the advanced features needed by measure developers.
Published Version: doi:10.2196/jmir.2493
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