EHR-generated clinical quality information can be made more reliable

Providers can come together to standardize the data extracted from electronic health records in order to increase the reliability of quality measure reports, support quality improvement and align with national clinical reporting requirements, according to the results of a new case study published in eGEMs (Generating Evidence and Methods to Improve Patient Outcomes).

The lack of standardization in data capture and reporting within EHRs drives distrust in the EHR data. The case study, conducted by the researchers from the Louisiana Public Health Institute, focused on an initiative by the Crescent City Beacon Community in New Orleans, creating a five-step process implemented in 13 safety net clinics over nine months using diabetes and cardiovascular disease data.

The process involved measure selection and review, assessment of the data capability reporting and needs, tailoring the approach based on findings, conducting quality checks and rapid performance feedback.

The initiative harmonized measures and reduced errors and reporting burdens. However, the program encountered several challenges, such as lack of training of data coordinators and resources issues.

"Our experience demonstrates that quality measure reporting from EHRs is not a straightforward process, and it requires time and close collaboration between clinics and vendors to improve reliability of reports," the researchers reported.

While EHRs can be beneficial, their data is only as good as what is collected and retrieved, and that the data is often variable and inaccurate. Other research has demonstrated that EHR data should not be relied on in court proceedings without testing and that their variability can have a negative impact on data sharing and research.

To learn more:
- read the case study (.pdf)