CMS Announces Transition of Electronic Clinical Quality Measures to Clinical Quality Language for the CY2019 Reporting/Performance Periods

October 31, 2017 - 9:55am

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is pleased to announce that following more than one year of testing and input from the vendor and implementer communities, electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) in CMS quality programs will be transitioned to use the Clinical Quality Language (CQL) standard (CQL Release 1, Standard for Trial Use (STU) 2) for logic expression. CQL is a Health Level Seven International standard and aims to unify the expression of logic for eCQMs and Clinical Decision Support (CDS). CQL provides the ability to better express logic defining measure populations to improve the accuracy and clarity of eCQMs.

Measures expressed using CQL logic will continue to use the Quality Data Model (QDM) as the conceptual model to express clinical concepts contained within quality measures. Refer to the QDM v5.3 Annotated version and current version of the CQL standard to better understand how they work together to provide eCQMs that are human readable, yet structured for electronic processing.

The transition to reporting CQL-based measures will begin with the calendar year (CY) 2019 reporting period for Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), and CY 2019 performance period for Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Clinicians. To support the transition, CMS will publish CQL-based eCQMs in Spring 2018 for potential inclusion in the following programs:

  • Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program
  • Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program for Eligible Hospitals and CAHs
  • Medicaid EHR Incentive Program for EPs, Eligible Hospitals, and CAHs
  • Quality Payment Program: The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models

Draft eCQM specifications using CQL will be available through November 13, 2017 on the  CQM Issue Tracker via the following tickets. Please note, that these draft specifications are for informational review only and are not intended for implementation and/or submission:

  • Eligible hospital and critical access hospital measures (CQM-2858)
  • Eligible professional and eligible clinician measures (CQM-2860)

Available Resources and Tools:

CMS will be offering general and targeted educational sessions to share how CQL is used to support eCQMs beginning in November 2017. To learn more about CQL, please check the eCQI Resource Center Events page for information on upcoming webinars.

For More Information

You can find more CQL and QDM resources on the eCQI Resource Center. Please submit CQL related questions to the ONC CQL Issue Tracker

Last Updated: October 31, 2017