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Frequently Asked Questions

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sponsors the eCQI Resource Center and provides a centralized “one-stop shop” for stakeholders engaged in electronic quality improvement. The eCQI Resource Center draws from existing resources whenever possible to minimize duplication of resources and efforts across programs and websites. The site contains resources and information put forth by federal agencies: CMS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the National Library of Medicine, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and provides links to external functional tools to meet the needs of stakeholders throughout their eCQI efforts.

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You can find resources for use at various stages of electronic clinical quality measure (eCQM) development, testing, certification, implementation, reporting, continuous evaluation, and information about standards and tools to support eCQI, including clinical decision support. The eCQI Resource Center also supports users looking for links to external resources related to eCQMs and data reporting, like ONC Project Tracking System (Jira), the Measure Authoring Tool, and the Value Set Authority Center.
The eCQI Resource Center includes:

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To set up an account on the eCQI Resource Center, select “Manage Your Account” under the "Sign in" menu item on the upper right side of any page on the website. This opens the Log in page. Select the tab that reads “Create new account” and set up an account by providing your email address and desired username. You will receive a “Welcome” email with a temporary password. We recommend you go to “Reset your password” and enter the user name or email you used to set up the account and change your password. If you do not get an email, please email the eCQI Resource Center.

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Users with active eCQI Resource Center accounts can receive updates on a particular topic of interest by subscribing to a page. Subscribing to a page provides the user with email notifications with the addition of new content or a change on that page. To subscribe to a page, log into the website, navigate to the webpage of interest (e.g., eCQI Tools & Resources, QDM, QRDA), and select "Receive updates on this topic" on top left part of the page. When you successfully subscribe to a page, you will notice that “Receive updates on this topic” has been replaced by “Stop receiving updates on this topic”. Click this link if you wish to stop receiving notifications. 

You can manage your subscriptions by logging into the eCQI Resource Center and selecting “My account” at the upper right side of the page. Manage your subscriptions on the site by navigating to the “Subscriptions” tab. The “Edit” tab allows you check a box to opt-out of news and events emails. Click “Save” when updates are complete. 

Note that not all pages allow subscriptions. If you have any questions on this feature, email the eCQI Resource Center team.

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Users with active accounts can update their personal time zone. You can manage your eCQI Resource Center account by logging into the website and selecting “My account” at the upper right side of the page. The “Edit” tab allows you to select your time zone. Click “Save” when updates are complete.

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Macintosh requires some additional steps to use the Add to calendar function.

Office 365 and Outlook.com only work with an online calendar, e.g., Outlook.com, Outlook.live.com.

To populate the event to your Outlook calendar, use the Outlook download. Make sure you check the box “On my calendar in the left navigation bar of the calendar, then save and close the event. Once you check the “On my calendar” box, you should not need to recheck for every new event.

To populate the event on your Mac calendar, if you only have Birthdays, US Holidays, and Siri Suggestion calendars, create a new calendar, then use the Outlook download, save, and close. You do not need to create a new calendar each time, just make sure you are adding to the correct calendar

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When adding an event using the Outlook.com or Office 365 button you may receive the error:

    404. The event contains errors. 

    The event you have tried to add to your calendar contains invalid event information.

    The error returned to AddEvent:

        REST API is not yet supported for this mailbox.

This is an error caused by the security settings set for your mailbox and not caused by the event from the eCQI Resource Center. If issues persist, please contact your IT department or local administrator.

See an online article for more information.

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The eCQI Resource Center is constantly improving to better meet the needs of its users. Please email us with any questions or feedback.

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You can find many of the acronyms on the eCQI Resource Center Glossary. If you see unexplained acronyms not in the Glossary, please send us an email.

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The MC Workspace is a collaborative portal that supports quality and information technology staff at measured entity organizations to help implement and use electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs). The MC Workspace brings together a set of interconnected resources, tools, and processes to promote transparency and better interaction across stakeholder communities that develop, implement, and report eCQMs. The MC Workspace has three modules to support measure collaboration:

  • eCQM Concepts module allows users to search for eCQM concepts suggested by others, comment on those suggested eCQM concepts, and suggest new eCQM concepts.
  • eCQM Testing Opportunities module allows measure developers to announce eCQM testing opportunities and provides stakeholders with available opportunities to participate in eCQM testing.
  • eCQM Data Element Repository (DERep) provides data definitions to aid in measure implementation and data mapping.
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The MC Workspace User Guide provides detailed information on using all of the modules.

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Users do not need an account to view information contained within the MC Workspace. You need an eCQI Resource Center account if you would like to subscribe to notifications, add a suggested eCQM concept, or add a comment on an existing suggested eCQM concept.

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The eCQI Resource Center updates the eCQM DERep each year to incorporate the eCQM annual updates.

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Please email us with any questions or feedback.

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You may request the eCQI Resource Center submit your suggested eCQM concepts to CMS for consideration. These suggested eCQM concepts may help provide ideas for measurement not previously considered by CMS. The submission of suggested eCQM concepts is outside the pre-rulemaking process.

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The eCQM DERep is an online searchable repository that provides all the data elements and definitions associated with eCQMs used in CMS quality reporting programs by eligible hospitalscritical access hospitals, providers, and clinicians. The CMS DEL is the centralized resource for CMS assessment instrument data elements (e.g., questions and responses) and their associated health information technology standards, including the Minimum Data Set, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Patient Assessment Instrument, Functional Assessment Standardized Items, Outcome and Assessment Information Set, Long-Term Care Hospital Continuity Assessment Record and Evaluation Data Set, and the Hospice Item Set.

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CQL is a Health Level Seven International® (HL7®) authoring language standard intended to be human readable. CQL provides the ability to express logic that is human readable yet structured enough for processing a query electronically. Measure authors with access to the Measure Authoring Tool (MAT) can use the tool to author measures using CQL.

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CMS first implemented CQL beginning with the calendar year 2019 performance/reporting period eCQMs. CQL replaces the logic expressions previously defined in the Quality Data Model (QDM). Beginning with QDM v5.3, QDM includes only the conceptual model for defining the data elements (the data model).

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CQL allows for a more modular, flexible, and robust expression of the logic. It allows logic to be shared between measures and with clinical decision support (CDS). 

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Explore these resources to get an overview of CQL and learn how to implement CQL.

  • Learn more about the fundamentals of CQL and why it is important on the CQL Educational Resources page. Also find past presentations and webinars for the various audiences who might use CQL.
  • Attend an upcoming Cooking with CQL, QDM, and FHIR® webinar. The sessions feature open discussion with subject matter experts on the MAT, show how to express measures using CQL, and review questions. Visit the eCQI Events page to find registration information.
  • Visit the CQL Formatting and Usage Wiki for introductions, tutorials, and walkthroughs.
  • Visit the CQL Formatting and Usage Wiki Cooking with CQL Examples to review common questions and answers on CQL.

Visit the Connect page to find out how to connect to various CQL resources.

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CQL library is text document (.cql, .xml, and .json) that contains CQL expressions, definitions, functions, and other declarations that can be used across measures. Each eCQM contains a primary library that defines the criteria used by the populations of the measure. The Health Quality Measure Format document references this library and defines the populations by identifying which expressions in the CQL library define each population (e.g., Inpatient Encounter, terminologies). Measures may include references to a shared library, which can be either referenced throughout a single measure or across different measures (and even CDS rules) to share definitions and functions like "Hospitalization". Library sharing minimizes efforts with measure development and implementation.

For more information on libraries, refer to the Using Libraries to Shared Logic section of the CQL Implementation Guide.

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You can use CQL with any data model. The examples in the Cooking with CQLQDM, and FHIR® sessions are focused on using the QDM, which has a serialization as Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA). QRDA is similar to consolidated clinical document architecture (C-CDA) standard. QRDA and C-CDA are HL7 V3 standards.

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Yes, you can use return, it is an arbitrary expression. So, whatever you want to return from the “from,” you can.

For example

define "Encounter with Assessment Result":

  from

    "Valid Encounter" Encounter,

    ["Assessment, Performed": "Specified Assessment"] Assessment

      where Assessment.result in "Specified Assessment Result Valueset"

        and Assessment.relevantDatetime during Encounter.relevantPeriod

      return Encounter

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There is tooling to support authoring, parsing, and validation of CQL. There are open source tools available to evaluate the Expression Logical Model (ELM) for both the JavaScript and Java platforms. There is also a .NET toolkit for ELM that can support translation and evaluation.

Developing the measures in Java, C#, or any other commercially supported language would not achieve the goal of sharing the measure logic in a platform independent way, nor would it serve as a vehicle for communicating the intent of the measures in the way that CQL/ELM does. Traditional programming languages do not support the required set of operations for expressing measure logic, and traditional query languages, though closer to the mark, still do not support important aspects like terminology and interval-based timing. Refer to the GitHub tooling repository for additional guidance.

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We recommend using Visual Studio (VS) Code. VS Code has a CQL extension. We previously recommended Atom, a desktop general purpose editor. However, GitHub announced Atom will be archived and no longer supported as of December 15, 2022. 

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CQL writes text documents using the CQL library. The MAT provides the structure to make writing easy beyond having a text document. It helps with available operations and acceptable attributes from the QDM elements. Use of the MAT is required for eCQMs used in CMS programs.

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ELM is a machine-readable representation of an eCQM's logic and provides the information needed to automatically retrieve data from an electronic health record. The ELM file can be in XML (.xml) or JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) file (.json).

There are a lot of things that CQL supports, higher level constructs like timing phrases that are translated into a representation in ELM that is focused on implementation so that you do not have to worry about those pieces within ELM. There is nothing that says you could not do all that yourself. But for implementation, using ELM takes those pieces off an implementer’s plate. Individually each of those are not terribly difficult, but when you put them all together and add them up, and the fact that we maintain ELM as a part of this whole infrastructure, it is a significant advantage to be able to use the ELM directly rather than have to start from a parser. Refer to the CQL Educational Resources page for additional guidance.

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Please look for QDM events on the eCQI Resource Center Upcoming Events. The User Group coordinates the QDM contents and responds to requests for additional clarification or content from measure developers and others submitting questions or information to the ONC Project Tracking System (Jira) QDM project. Please visit the eCQI Resource Center QDM page Connect tab to learn about QDM and to register for the QDM User Group distribution list.

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Measure developers use the QDM along with CQL to develop electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) in the Measure Authoring Tool (MAT) and test the eCQM logic using the Bonnie tool. The QDM documentation provides guidance for how to use the information model to express eCQM content. Please visit the eCQI Resource Center QDM page Connect tab to learn about the QDM User Group.

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You can create an account on the ONC Project Tracking System (Jira). Once logged in, select “Projects” from the top menu bar and chose "View All Projects." Select “QDM Issue Tracker (QDM)” from the list. Select “Create” and enter any necessary details of your question or issue. 

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Find the current version of the QDM on the QDM About tab. Previous versions of the QDM are available on the QDM page Previous Versions tab

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CMS updates the QDM annually based on the QDM User Group’s recommendations that evaluate stakeholder requests. QDM User Group Meeting Notes provide information about future changes to QDM. CMS is using QDM version 5.6 for the 2023 reporting/performance period. MAT version 6.10 and Bonnie version 5.1.1 are for use with QDM 5.6. Currently published QDM versions include:

  • QDM v.5.5 Guidance Update - was used for the 2021 reporting/performance period (eCQMs published May 2020)
  • QDM v.5.5 Guidance Update - is for use for the 2022 reporting/performance period (no structural change to QDM 5.5)
  • QDM v5.6 - CMS is for use for the 2023 reporting/performance period
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QDM versions prior to v.5.3 included both the conceptual data model (the categories and their context of use) and the expression logic to state measure clauses. QDM versions since v.5.3 include only the conceptual data model. This change occurred with eCQMs designed for the 2019 reporting/performance period when measure developers started using CQL to express logic. Download current versions of the QDM from the eCQI Resource Center QDM About tab.

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Negation has several aspects: (a) assurance that a certain condition does not exist (e.g., no known allergies); (b) lack of evidence that a condition exists (e.g., no information is available in the electronic health record about allergies); and (c) that a measured entity intentionally did not perform an action, with or without a reason (e.g., the clinician did not prescribe the medication due to interaction with other medications a patient is taking). The QDM negation rationale attribute addresses only the third definition, sometimes called action negation. The QDM includes this concept as negation rationale as an attribute of the QDM datatypes. Its inclusion allows a measure developer to express a measure criterion or a measure exception if the clinician expressed a reason for not performing the action expected. The QDM documentation on the eCQI Resource Center describes how a measure developer can use negation rationale. Negation rationale is part of  v.5.5 Guidance Update for the 2021 and 2022 reporting/performance periods, and v5.6 for the 2023 reporting/performance period.

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This information is in the CQL-based Health Quality Measure Format (HQMF) Implementation Guide (IG). This document describes constraints on the HQMF Normative edition Release 1 (HQMF R1) header and body elements for the CQL-based HQMF. Volume 3 of the IG references QDM. Note, eCQMs for the 2021 and 2022 reporting/performance period use the CQL-based HQMF STU 4.0 as the QDM structure is the same for v.5.5 and the v.5.5 Guidance Update. CMS is using QDM v.5.6 for the 2023 reporting/performance period and CQL-based HQMF STU 4.1 addresses QDM v5.6.

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Updates to the QDM generally occur annually and there are currently several versions of QDM available, although each for a different CMS reporting/performance period. See the eCQM Standards and Tools Versions table on the eCQI Resource Center from the eCQI Tools & Key Resources page for the version by reporting year. Each measure documentation includes the QDM version number in the CQL file and the HTML human readable file.

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The QDM specifications provide tables for each datatype available for use. For more information, visit the About tab of the QDM page to retrieve the correct version of the specification.

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No, “Medication, not Administered” is the method CQL uses to express the QDM datatype “Medication, Administered” when using negation rationale to indicate a reason the action of administering the medication did not occur. Administered medications do not necessarily originate with orders, for example, for medications with standing orders, or orders initiated outside of the clinical software. In the QDM, negation indicates that an action did not occur for a reason. It indicates that the clinician recorded that they did not administer a medication. In the first implementation of eCQMs, measure concepts that allowed negation used the same medication value set to represent the type of medications not administered.

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Nine QDM datatypes include the action “Recommended” which represents the healthcare provider's proposal to the patient about a specific treatment or action. The meaning is implicit. Electronic health records vary with respect to how they might represent recommendations. However, Health Level Seven International® (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources® (FHIR®) provides a method to indicate intent in data exchange. An intent = plan represents a recommendation and an intent = order represents an order. Thus, QDM attributes are consistent with evolving HL7 standards for data exchange. “Recommended” does not address a suggested action based on clinical decision support (CDS), represented in HL7 FHIR as intent = proposal. The QDM action “Performed” indicates completion of an action. The comparable concept in HL7 FHIR includes the resource (e.g., Procedure) plus a status = completed.

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"Medication, Discharge" defines medications intended for use when the patient leaves the hospital. As defined in the QDM, "Medication, Order" does not differentiate between an order for medications for administration immediately prior to discharge from those written for the patient to take after departure from the hospital. Further, although there maybe orders for some discharge medications (or prescribed), others may already be present in the home and still others may be over-the-counter substances for which orders are unnecessary. Hence, "Medication, Discharge" refers to reconciled medications listed on the patient’s Discharge Medication List. “Medication, Discharge” events should start and end within the time duration of the episode of care, even though the patient may not start the medication until after the episode ends. The expectation is that, at the time of discharge, discharge medications will be the same as the subsequent home medication lists for those medications that are germane to the quality measure, but you cannot assume this at the time of admission as changes may have occurred since the prior episode of care. United States Core (US Core) representation of HL7 FHIR defines a medication list as one compiled from orders (MedicationRequest) with a status = active and intent = order (for physician orders) or intent = plan (for patient reporting or recommended medications). Thus, US Core represents active medications using order and, further, allows indication of the setting in which the patient should take the medication as category = community. Therefore, using US Core for data interchange, the order (MedicationRequest) can represent all discharge medications by using the category = community. QDM v.5.5 includes a setting attribute that maps directly to the US Core category for "Medication, Discharge" to assist with the transition to FHIRQuality Improvement Core (QI-Core) includes mapping from all QDM datatypes and attributes to FHIR.

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The QDM v.5.4 and subsequent versions added a prescriber attribute to “Medication, Order,” “Medication, Dispensed,” and “Medication, Discharge” and a dispenser attribute to “Medication, Dispensed.” Therefore, from the 2019 reporting/performance period forward, QDM has enabled expressions indicating a medication’s prescriber and dispenser. QDM v.5.5 and forward further added entities, concepts for use to specify details about an actor (or performer) of any QDM datatype. Entities include Patient, Care Partner, Practitioner, and Organization. V 5.6 added the entity Location. Each entity has specific attributes such that a “Medication, Order” prescriber can reference a Practitioner with a role = physician and a specialty = internist (as an example). eCQM expressions can indicate that the “Medication, Order” prescriber is the same individual as the “Encounter, Performed” participant, or add further details indicating the individual’s role or specialty. Measure developers need to test such expressions in real-world settings to determine the feasibility of retrieving such information.

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The QDM is a conceptual data model that helps measure developers and implementers understand the general concepts needed to compute a quality measure. However, QDM only defines the concepts, such as a diagnosis, a laboratory test (with a result), or a physical examination finding (such as blood pressure readings). A method to relate each concept to other concepts requires an expression language. As an example, the QDM data element is similar to a noun in expressing grammar (e.g., a laboratory test) and related adjectives (the time the lab performed the laboratory test). But to create a sentence, one must have verbs (e.g., starts) and adverbs (after the beginning of). The expression language provides the verbs and adverbs. Prior versions of QDM (v.4.3 and earlier) included the expression language and the conceptual data model. The expression language portion of QDM was difficult to understand and more challenging to compute. CQL allows measure developers to better express the measure calculation. CQL can express that some specific activity happened during an inpatient encounter and that it happened before another activity. However, CQL needs a data model to indicate what is related to what.

  • >CQL defines the expression – i.e., the relationship between item A and item B
  • QDM defines the items
  • CQL can work with other data models not just QDM. However, in the current CMS measure development activities, QDM is the chosen data model to work with CQL. Other projects could consider other data models. 

In the HL7 community, the Clinical Quality Improvement and CDS Work Groups harmonized efforts to express quality measures (QDM) and CDS artifacts (virtual medical record). The result is an HL7 FHIR IG, QI-Core, which includes a detailed mapping of QDM concepts. QI-Core-related tooling allows measure developers to use it directly to author eCQM in FHIR. QI-Core specifically builds directly on each FHIR version to assure consistency of measure expressions and the evolving method for data interchange and interoperability. The eCQI Resource Center includes further information about FHIR and transition efforts.

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Yes, the MAT is a web-based tool that allows measure developers to author eCQMs using the QDM to represent clinical concepts and CQL to represent the logic. The tool provides the capability to export measures in several formats that support both human- and machine-reading. Refer to the MAT User Guide for more information.

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There are no formatting conventions specific to the QDM, measure developers should review the QDM for specific guidance on using the datatypes and attributes in the conceptual model. However, there is information on conventions for formatting statements and expressions in CQL which encourage consistency, readability, maintainability, and reusability of the resulting CQL. Find these conventions on the CQL Formatting and Usage Wiki. Additionally, CMS annually publishes a CQL Style Guide, based on the Formatting and Usage Wiki contents. The CQL Style Guide focuses on a set of common best practices implemented across CQL-based eCQMs in the CMS reporting programs and also promotes the use of consistent language within the framework of CQL, including libraries, aliases, definitions, functions, and conventions. Measure stewards or measure developers who are developing or specifying eCQMs for future inclusion in CMS programs should align with these best practices.

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