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Study Finds Electronic Health Record Data Posing Challenges for PCPs For Quality Improvement

A new study, published in Health Affairs, suggests the current state of EHR measurement functionality may be insufficient to support federal initiatives that tie payment to clinical quality measures. Federal value-based payment programs require primary care practices to conduct quality improvement activities, informed by the electronic reports on clinical quality measures that their electronic health records (EHRs) generate. To determine whether EHRs produce reports adequate to the task, researchers examined survey responses from 1,492 practices across twelve states, supplemented with qualitative data. Meaningful-use participation, which requires the use of a federally certified EHR, was associated with the ability to generate reports—but the reports did not necessarily support quality improvement initiatives. Practices reported numerous challenges in generating adequate reports, such as difficulty manipulating and aligning measurement time frames with quality improvement needs, lack of functionality for generating reports on electronic clinical quality measures at different levels, discordance between clinical guidelines and measures available in reports, questionable data quality, and vendors that were unreceptive to changing EHR configuration beyond federal requirements.

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