Major problems remain with quality data collection

A new Government Accountability Office report has underscored a problem already quite familiar to FierceHealthIT readers--that pulling together care quality data is a heck of a problem. The recently-released GAO report reviewed eight hospitals' efforts to collect data on measures specified by CMS. (These are the data sets CMS requires hospitals to submit if they want Medicare payment increases.) The case studies concluded that while existing IT systems play a role, they aren't able to abstract data from medical records.

In theory, a fully-functional EMR could simplify the abstraction process, but in practice, many hospitals were using both paper records and EMRs, forcing staffers to look in multiple places to get the job done. All told, given that most medical data is still structured as narrative text, that physicians aren't used to capturing clinical information in an EMR and that many hospital IT systems aren't integrated, hospitals are still a long way away from automating quality data collection, the agency concluded.

To get more information from the report:
- read this Government HealthIT article
- read the GAO report (.pdf)

Related Article:
If hospitals implement the right technology, quality data collection could be much easier, AHRQ researchers say. Article