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Healthcare Quality Metrics 'Abysmal,' Senate Panel Hears

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 2, 2013

There has been an assumption that meaningful use incentive payments and the push to get all providers using computerized health record would ease the burden on providers. But while electronic health records "do have the have the promise of supporting" quality improvement and reporting, "I think in practice, there have been a few challenges," McClellan said.

First, he told the senators, many systems "have not been very well designed to put together data from a lot of different sources…to track your particular patients in the way you really need to in order to improve their care. A lot of providers are doing add-ons or modifications to systems to help make that happen now."

But second, he said, most of the meaningful use payments "have been tied to whether or not basically you have electronic record systems that are capable of doing things like tracking a patient over time, and maybe potentially reporting on quality measures, but not actually doing it."

It would be better, he said, to move toward payments based on doctors "using their systems to put this data together… Now there are some concerns that may be too big of a leap."

Elizabeth McGlynn, director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research, agreed. "There needs to be more work to make [EHR systems] readily useable and for physicians and individual practices, it's a harder climb because frankly, they're not optimized for this use right now."

At Kaiser, she says, "half of my center's budget goes to making our data useable for research and for clinical decision support, and that's just not something that everybody can afford to do."

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2 comments on "Healthcare Quality Metrics 'Abysmal,' Senate Panel Hears"


Peter (7/4/2013 at 9:06 AM)
Sadly, we're an industry ecosystem that is still largely disconnected and pointing fingers at each other. Without de-humanizing care or de-valuing healthcare professionals, we need to accept that "healthcare" is a supply chain that is, for the first time, getting wired for optimization. Consumers need to be accountable for their health (and costs). Doctors need to care about outcomes and health not visits and billing. Everyone will make EMRs and their affiliate systems (PACS, VNA... Etc.). become more useful and effective when they understand the supply chain of health and how to improve. Then again, I don't even know my blood pressure... So I'll start with me.

Harvey (7/2/2013 at 10:48 AM)
Patients are not always compliant, are they taking the correct meds, are they staying on their restricted diet, have they really stopped smoking, are they keeping their specialist appointments etc.Quality is not a one way street. Congress also decided to let free enterprise have free reign over EMR's and now millions of dollars and an enormous amount of resources are being wasted trying to get EMR's to communicate with each other. Physicians are wasting valuable resources and money chasing after specialist trying to get their patients consults. EMR is a wonderful tool unfortunately American business tainted it and it will take years and years to deliver the product that it should and can be.