EHR use included in new NCQA medical home standards

Meaningful use provisions are embedded throughout the new 2011 evaluation standards for patient-centered medical homes issued this week by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to encourage primary-care practices to quickly adopt healthcare information technology.

"By emphasizing access, health information technology, and partnerships between clinicians and patients to improve health, these new standards raise the bar in defining high-quality care," said NCQA President Margaret O'Kane in a statement.

In the area of enhancing access and continuity, the standards look at factors related to how information and services are provided to patients and families through secure electronic systems.

Among those factors are whether more than 50 percent of patients who request electronic copies of their health information receive them within three business days--or whether at least 10 percent of patients have electronic access to their current health information (such as lab results or medication lists) within four business days of when the information is available to the practice.

For identifying and managing patient populations, the standards are used to evaluate whether practices are using electronic systems to record areas such as: allergies for more than 80 percent of patients; blood pressure, with the date of update, for more than 50 percent of patients; and a list of prescription medications with the date of updates for more than 80 percent of patients.

The standards' alignment with meaningful use creates a "virtuous cycle"--meaning that practices that meet the 2011 requirements will be "well prepared to qualify for meaningful use, and vice versa," according to NCQA.

For more details:
- see the NCQA announcement
- download PCMH 2011 standards free of charge (reg required)
- check out this article in Healthcare IT News