Better quality through health IT

August 10, 2007

Some recent studies have found that the use of health IT doesn't necessarily lead to improved quality of care. But it has in many of the California groups that participate in the Integrated Healthcare Association's P4P program.

Some recent studies have found that the use of health IT doesn't necessarily lead to improved quality of care (InfoTech Bulletin, July 27, 2007). But it has in many of the California groups that participate in the Integrated Healthcare Association's P4P program. According to the IHA, in 2006 the physician groups that met all P4P criteria for information technology had clinical quality scores that were 18 percent higher than those of groups that didn't meet any of the IT criteria.

Those criteria fall into two areas: how physician groups use IT to manage patient populations with registries and other tools, and how IT is used at the point of care through functions such as e-prescribing, drug interaction checks, lab result tracking, electronic messaging, and preventive and chronic care reminders.

The P4P program's emphasis on IT has encouraged a growing number of groups to invest in it. "When P4P results were first published in 2003, two-thirds of physician groups did not meet any IT criteria," says Tom Williams, executive director of IHA. "Today, only one-third do not meet any of our IT criteria." He adds that the percentage of groups achieving the maximum IT score increased by 23 percent in 2006.