NU Online News Service, Feb. 22, 2005, 3:10 p.m. EST

The National Committee for Quality Assurance, Washington, is beefing up standards that discourage doctors from prescribing too much medicine with too little oversight.[@@]

The NCQA, a nonprofit health plan rating group, is seeking public comments on a draft of its 2006 Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set standards.

The first versions of HEDIS asked health maintenance organizations and other health plans about patients’ access and use of the right kinds of care.

In recent years, HEDIS has expanded to include measures of over-use or misuse of certain kinds of care.

Some of the new measures proposed in the 2006 draft include measures to assess whether doctors are doing enough to monitor patients who have certain kinds of long-term prescriptions.

The NCQA will be using HEDIS to encourage annual monitoring for patients taking drugs such as diuretics and anticonvulsants.

The NCQA also wants to include a measure to check whether children 6 to 12 who are receiving drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are getting enough follow-up visits with their pediatricians.

The 2006 HEDIS may discourage over-use of antibiotics, which can breed antibiotic-resistant “super bugs,” by closely monitoring antibiotics that contribute to drug resistance.

Public comments on the draft are due March 22.

The NCQA has posted links to the draft and information about the draft at http://www.ncqa.org/Programs/HEDIS/Public%20Comment/PublicComment.htm