This article highlighting a useful new issue brief appeared a little while ago.
Story posted: April 8, 2008 - 5:59 am EDT
A stronger electronic platform for sharing medical information could improve healthcare quality, the National Quality Forum said in an issue brief.
In its brief, part of a series started last year to highlight issues that relate to quality, the forum lends its support to an information technology system that combines quality measures, clinical guidelines and decision-support tools. “EHRs and quality should go hand-in-hand,” the forum wrote. “Ideally, IT should enable quality improvement by capturing performance data as a byproduct of the care process.”
EHRs have not garnered widespread enthusiasm among providers who criticize the large expense with little return on investment, but the NQF said there is room for improvement. Physicians express strong support for IT systems, such as electronic health records, as a tool for collecting and analyzing quality data, but they recognize that there are still limitations, said Janet Corrigan, president and chief executive officer of the NQF. “People are very realistic about the state of technology as it currently exists.”
Continue reading article here:
The issue brief is found here:
The Executive Summary reads as follows:
“It is generally recognized that health information technology (IT)— featuring but not limited to electronic health record (EHR) systems— holds great promise for facilitating the collection and analysis of quality data and thus appreciably improving the quality of American healthcare. However, the implementation of an EHR system that is usable across institutions, care settings, and distances is a complex endeavor. Such a system should be adaptable for a variety of user needs and also support clinical processes simultaneously. It requires standardization of terms and technical specifications, the cooperation and collaboration of multiple disparate parties, and a significant financial investment that may not be recouped by the users—in strict dollar terms—for many years.
More specifically, if EHRs are to support quality measurement and improvement and public reporting on performance, they must capture the necessary patient, clinical, and other data needed to assess performance, and the performance measures must be specified using common conventions and standardized data elements.
This Issue Brief explores how health IT can improve the quality of healthcare; the benefits of EHRs to clinical practitioners (e.g., clinical decision support); and the importance of ensuring that quality improvement and health IT adoption go hand-in-hand. It also identifies the major “players” in the health IT arena and the next steps that need to be taken. Finally, this Issue Brief envisions the goal of a unified health system in which performance data are collected and acted upon in real time.”
This is a really useful issue brief and should be carefully read by all those interesting in advocating for a more careful consideration of wider deployment of e-Health. Very good stuff indeed.