Electronic health record systems often “miss the mark” on improving health care quality reporting, according to industry officials testifying at a Senate Committee on Finance hearing Wednesday, Healthcare IT News reports (McCann, Healthcare IT News, 6/27).
Christine Cassel — a geriatrician and the new CEO of the National Quality Forum — told committee members that although a majority of physicians and hospitals have adopted EHR systems, “this has not yet translated into accurate electronic capture and reporting of performance results as part of the care process” (Brino, Government Health IT, 6/27).
Mark McClellan — senior fellow at the Brookings Institution — noted that meaningful use incentive payments are linked to health care providers having EHR systems that are capable of doing certain functions and reporting on quality measures, but the program does not actually require them to do so.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
McClellan said, “One way to better align the payments that providers are receiving and further the goals of getting better quality information out — especially around outcomes and improving the quality of data — (is) to move toward meaningful use payments and other payments that really do support doctors in using their systems to put this data together and then reporting on it from their electronic record systems.”
He also suggested reducing some of the 1,100 measures used across various quality reporting and payment programs and instead focus on fewer, more outcome- and patient experience-focused measures (Healthcare IT News, 6/27).
Similarly, Cassel said, “More must be done to find consensus among sectors on which measures should be used to improve care” and figure “out how to really assess value” (Government Health IT, 6/27).
Elizabeth McGlynn — director of Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research — said she believes that EHR systems have the potential for reporting on quality measures, but disparities among systems remains a barrier. In regards to the systems implemented in smaller physician practices, she said, “I think it’s a harder climb (for them) because frankly (their systems) aren’t optimized for this use right now.”
Meanwhile, David Lansky — president and CEO of Pacific Business Group on Health — raised concerns that the U.S. lacked an “information infrastructure needed to support a viable health care marketplace.” Lansky said the federal government should move beyond the EHR incentive programs and work toward developing a framework on care coordination and long-term care outcome measurements.
Lansky said, “Our view is that if the market rewards (providers) for better results because we measure and expose outcomes they will be brilliant in finding the best ways to achieve those results” (Healthcare IT News, 6/27).