Health care leaders call for unified measures

April 13, 2007

Health care providers are increasingly burdened by a plethora of performance measures, and they need a national program to standardize measures and build them into EHRs so they can collect the data easily in the course of their daily work. That was the message that MGMA and AHIMA, the organization of health IT professionals, delivered at a recent meeting of the Quality Workgroup of the American Health Information Community, which advises the Department of Health and Human Services on health IT.

Health care providers are increasingly burdened by a plethora of performance measures, and they need a national program to standardize measures and build them into EHRs so they can collect the data easily in the course of their daily work. That was the message that MGMA and AHIMA, the organization of health IT professionals, delivered at a recent meeting of the Quality Workgroup of the American Health Information Community, which advises the Department of Health and Human Services on health IT.

"The healthcare community acknowledges the importance of standardizing performance measures to improve healthcare quality and efficiency," said MGMA President and CEO William Jessee, MD. "However, little attention has been devoted to the specific problems surrounding how the data for these measures are to be acquired, by whom, and at what cost."

The organizations cited an expert report that advocated that standard performance measures be used to report data to payers, public health researchers, policymakers, and others. In addition, the report suggested that "these data [be] collected in the course of primary clinical documentation and/or normal administrative processes." If these data elements were imbedded in all EHRs, the report suggests, providers could collect data "once per encounter" without doing any additional work.