CMS Renews Bellese Technologies Contract for Hospital Quality Reporting (HQR)

(BALTIMORE, MARYLAND) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded Bellese Technologies the contract. Bellese is the incumbent prime contractor for this project and has been awarded the HQR contract for the second time. This contract period consists of one base-period with three additional option-years. Under the direction of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality's (CCSQ) Information Systems Group (ISG), Bellese worked closely with CMS to modernize the legacy HQR system using modern digital service methods.

Pam Offutt, Bellese Chief Executive Officer, stated that “The past four years of partnership with CMS on the HQR system have been incredibly rewarding. We have made significant progress in the modernization of HQR and in the adoption of agile, lean, and human-centered design methods. Through this work, we are paving the way for CMS, other agencies, and their users to enjoy better performing and more usable services.”

"With improved access to hospital quality measure data and participation in data interoperability initiatives, HQR II will reduce barriers between patients, healthcare providers and policy makers," said John duClos, Bellese Chief Technology Officer.

The CMS and Bellese partnership has a history of producing meaningful results. In the initial contract period, the Bellese team completed modernizing the HQR infrastructure. The HQR system is now entirely hosted on cloud infrastructure. The time it took users to generate reports dropped dramatically from over 24 hours in the legacy system to approximately one second in the new system. Previously, downtime was required for almost all system updates and maintenance. Deployments could take over 20 hours. Now, updates and maintenance can be done with zero downtime and no impact to users. Deployment time has dropped from 20 hours to under three hours. In the first two years of the HQR contract, Bellese saved CMS nearly $1M as a result of system optimizations and automations.

“I've worked on HQR for 11 years in different roles. It wasn't until I joined Bellese five years ago when we really started to make significant progress on enhancements through the use of research, design thinking and product development methodologies,” said Karen Waters, Bellese Program Director of HQR. “From our focus on human-centered design to using modern technology while also successfully maintaining all that legacy code, the HQR team tackled some extraordinary challenges. I am extremely proud to work alongside each of our team members, CMS, support contractors, and the HQR users.”

The modernization of HQR is part of a larger CMS initiative called Patients over Paperwork. This initiative seeks to increase efficiencies, improve the end-user experience for end-users, and lower the overall provider burden. HQR allows facilities to directly report their quality measures. This reduction in time to use the system and submit data is now precious time gained by hospital staff to spend on their main job -- running a hospital and caring for patients. At Bellese the process of reducing burden started with understanding the people using the system, their environment, and importantly, their behavior.

“Fundamentally we want to make using the system as easy to use as possible.“ said Lesley Humphreys, Bellese Human-Centered Design Lead for HQR. “We did that through multiple research methods and ensuring our researchers, designers, and developers worked as one to meet user needs.”

Together, CMS and Bellese achieved the goal of legacy system modernization and positioning the HQR program for its role in the future of digital quality measurement. The HQR ecosystem includes several federal incentive programs including: Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR), Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR), Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting (IPF), PPS-Exempt Cancer Hospital Quality Reporting (PCH), and Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting (ASC). All of these incentive programs are supported by the HQR solution.



Founded in 2009, Bellese Technologies is a human-centered service design company in the Baltimore metro area. Bellese partners with health and human services clients in the public and private sectors. The firm leverages modern technology, human-centered design, and silo-busting collaboration to help its clients expand and accelerate the positive impact they have on society. Currently, Bellese works with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, supporting price transparency, Medicare payment system modernization, and quality of care initiatives. Bellese holds the GSA IT 70 Schedule and two CMS agile blanket purchase agreements (BPA) — the Medicare Payment System Modernization (MPSM) BPA and the Agile Delivery to Execute Legislative Endeavors-Quality Related Initiatives (ADELE-QRI) BPA. Bellese was recently recognized as a “Top Workplace” by the Baltimore Sun for the third year in a row. Visit for more information on careers at Bellese.

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