Study: EHR quality measures must be redefined

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have found ways in which quality measurement from electronic health records can be improved, according to a new study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine. They concluded that traditional quality measures must be redefined to suit documentation patterns in EHRs.

The study comes at an appropriate time--by 2014, providers across the nation will be required to use EHRs for all patient care reporting, and face penalties by 2015 if they fail to do so. According to the researchers, one current issue with electronic reporting is that it can both underestimate and overestimate quality. "This study reveals how challenging it is to measure quality in an electronic era," study author Rainu Kaushal said, according to an announcement. "Many measures are accurate, but some need refinement."

For the study, the researchers analyzed clinical data from the EHRs of a large community health center in New York, inspecting the accuracy of the electronic reporting for 12 quality measures, 11 of them part of the federal guidelines. Three guidelines failed to be consistent in quality, while nine proved fairly consistent.

Lisa Kern, a director of research at Weill Cornell, said that the variation in quality measurement helps prove that there's a need for redefined quality measures suited for EHRs. The study was funded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Last fall, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the final 2014 clinical quality measures for eligible professionals and eligible hospitals, and the specifications for electronic reporting. Beginning in 2014, providers will need to report the new CQMs whether they are reporting in Stage 1 or Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program. Eligible professionals will report on nine of 64 CQMs; eligible hospitals will report on 16 of 29 hospitals.

To learn more:
- here's the study
- here's the release from Cornell Weill Medical College