ACP: EHRs critical to effective reporting of quality measures

May 13, 2010

To achieve meaningful use of health information technology, physician practices must increase the use of quality measurement as part of their electronic health records systems, according to a paper recently released by the American College of Physicians.

To achieve meaningful use of health information technology (HIT), physician practices must increase the use of quality measurement as part of their electronic health records (EHR) systems, according to a paper recently released by the American College of Physicians (ACP).

In the paper, "EHR-Based Quality Measurement and Reporting: Critical for Meaningful Use and Health Care Improvement," the organization maintains that if practices use EHRs as the basis for quality measurement systems, care processes and patient outcomes will be more completely reflected and, ultimately, this reflection will result in a more clinically useful set of quality data.

"Physician practices face significant financial and work-flow barriers to EHR adoption," said Joseph W. Stubbs, MD, FACP, president of the ACP. "With the promise that could come from better quality measurement, it is critical that we provide physicians with the support necessary to acquire these systems."

For society to realize the full advantage of the benefits that EHRs could offer for quality measurement and reporting procedures, ACP maintains that:

The primary purpose of EHR-based quality measurement and reporting should be to facilitate higher-quality, cost-effective health care.

For an EHR-based quality measurement and reporting program to engage all healthcare stakeholders, it must use clinically relevant measures and be accurate and trusted by a full range of stakeholders, particularly patients, physicians, and other healthcare providers.

Data to support EHR-based quality measurement and reporting should rely on information routinely collected during the course of providing clinical care, including relevant data supplied by patients.

EHR-based quality measurement should begin with the goal of facilitating the real-time collection of data that support the effective use of point-of-care clinical decision support algorithms.

EHR-based quality measurement and reporting must not increase administrative work and/or impose uncompensated financial costs on physicians and other healthcare providers, healthcare organizations, or patients.

Data elements that comprise quality measure data sets should be defined in a standard way so that HIT developers can implement them effectively.

ACP expressed support for the commitment of the HIT Standards Committee, the National Quality Forum (NQF), the NQF Health Information Technology Expert Panel, Health Information Technology Standards Panel, and others to develop unified standards for structured, codified data elements, calculation logic, measure structure, and reporting structure for quality measures. The development of these standards requires concerted and consistent input from all healthcare stakeholders, according to the organization.

"Physicians using EHRs for effective quality measurement face significant implementation barriers. The challenge to making this happen is ensuring that EHRs are capable of reporting clinical outcomes and measures, and that physician offices have the necessary financial and workforce resources," said Dr. Stubbs. "However, the benefits that improved quality measurement could have for patient care would be tremendous."