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Scott L. Parker, Matthew J. McGirt, Kimon Bekelis, Christopher M. Holland, Jason Davies, Clinton J. Devin, Tyler Atkins, Jack Knightly, Rachel Groman, Irene Zyung, and Anthony L. Asher

Meaningful quality measurement and public reporting have the potential to facilitate targeted outcome improvement, practice-based learning, shared decision making, and effective resource utilization. Recent developments in national quality reporting programs, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) reporting option, have enhanced the ability of specialty groups to develop relevant quality measures of the care they deliver. QCDRs will complete the collection and submission of Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) quality measures data on behalf of individual eligible professionals. The National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) offers 21 non-PQRS measures, initially focused on spine procedures, which are the first specialty-specific measures for neurosurgery. Securing QCDR status for N2QOD is a tremendously important accomplishment for our specialty. This program will ensure that data collected through our registries and used for PQRS is meaningful for neurosurgeons, related spine care practitioners, their patients, and other stakeholders. The 2015 N2QOD QCDR is further evidence of neurosurgery’s commitment to substantively advancing the health care quality paradigm. The following manuscript outlines the measures now approved for use in the 2015 N2QOD QCDR. Measure specifications (measure type and descriptions, related measures, if any, as well as relevant National Quality Strategy domain[s]) along with rationale are provided for each measure.

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Kimon Bekelis, Matthew J. McGirt, Scott L. Parker, Christopher M. Holland, Jason Davies, Clinton J. Devin, Tyler Atkins, Jack Knightly, Rachel Groman, Irene Zyung, and Anthony L. Asher

Quality measurement and public reporting are intended to facilitate targeted outcome improvement, practice-based learning, shared decision making, and effective resource utilization. However, regulatory implementation has created a complex network of reporting requirements for physicians and medical practices. These include Medicare’s Physician Quality Reporting System, Electronic Health Records Meaningful Use, and Value-Based Payment Modifier programs. The common denominator of all these initiatives is that to avoid penalties, physicians must meet “generic” quality standards that, in the case of neurosurgery and many other specialties, are not pertinent to everyday clinical practice and hold specialists accountable for care decisions outside of their direct control.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently authorized alternative quality reporting mechanisms for the Physician Quality Reporting System, which allow registries to become subspecialty-reporting mechanisms under the Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) program. These programs further give subspecialties latitude to develop measures of health care quality that are relevant to the care provided. As such, these programs amplify the power of clinical registries by allowing more accurate assessment of practice patterns, patient experiences, and overall health care value. Neurosurgery has been at the forefront of these developments, leveraging the experience of the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database to create one of the first specialty-specific QCDRs.

Recent legislative reform has continued to change this landscape and has fueled optimism that registries (including QCDRs) and other specialty-driven quality measures will be a prominent feature of federal and private sector quality improvement initiatives. These physician- and patient-driven methods will allow neurosurgery to underscore the value of interventions, contribute to the development of sustainable health care solutions, and actively participate in meaningful quality initiatives for the benefit of the patients served.

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David T. Asuzu, Jonathan J. Yun, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Andrew K. Chan, Cheerag D. Upadhyaya, Domagoj Coric, Eric A. Potts, Erica F. Bisson, Jay D. Turner, Jack J. Knightly, Kai-Ming Fu, Kevin T. Foley, Luis Tumialan, Mark Shaffrey, Mohamad Bydon, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Paul Park, Scott Meyer, Anthony L. Asher, Oren N. Gottfried, Khoi D. Than, Michael Y. Wang, and Avery L. Buchholz

OBJECTIVE

Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) results in significant morbidity. The duration of symptoms prior to surgical intervention may be associated with postoperative surgical outcomes and functional recovery. The authors’ objective was to investigate whether delayed surgical treatment for DCM is associated with worsened postoperative outcomes.

METHODS

Data from 1036 patients across 14 surgical centers in the Quality Outcomes Database were analyzed. Baseline demographic characteristics and findings of preoperative and postoperative symptom evaluations, including duration of symptoms, were assessed. Postoperative functional outcomes were measured using the Neck Disability Index (NDI) and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scale. Symptom duration was classified as either less than 12 months or 12 months or greater. Univariable and multivariable regression were used to evaluate for the associations between symptom duration and postoperative outcomes.

RESULTS

In this study, 513 patients (49.5%) presented with symptom duration < 12 months, and 523 (50.5%) had symptoms for 12 months or longer. Patients with longer symptom duration had higher BMI and higher prevalence of anxiety and diabetes (all p < 0.05). Symptom duration ≥ 12 months was associated with higher average baseline NDI score (41 vs 36, p < 0.01). However, improvements in NDI scores from baseline were not significantly different between groups at 3 months (p = 0.77) or 12 months (p = 0.51). Likewise, the authors found no significant differences between groups in changes in mJOA scores from baseline to 3 months or 12 months (both p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical intervention resulted in improved mJOA and NDI scores at 3 months, and this improvement was sustained in both patients with short and longer initial symptom duration. Patients with DCM can still undergo successful surgical management despite delayed presentation.