HIMSS News

AHRQ-Funded Study Discusses Challenges in Using Data from EHRs to Improve Quality of Care

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s Health IT Portfolio is dedicated to funding research projects on health IT-related issues that explore how health information and technology can improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of care. Recently, an AHRQ-funded study published in Health Affairs explored the challenges of using data from Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to improve quality of care.

The study touches on topics of usability and functionality of health information technology such as EHRs for generating eCQM reports and how the data from these reports could be used to support quality improvement. Researchers studied responses from 1,492 practices across twelve states with the majority of practices having ten or fewer physicians and located in urban or suburban areas. Among the practices, sixty percent participated in Stage 1 and 2 of meaningful use.

Results identified several challenges that clinicians are facing in utilizing EHRs for quality measurement and improvement to include the following:

  • Difficulty in aligning report data and timeframes to meet quality improvement needs
  • Issues with data credibility
  • Changes in clinical guidelines and eCQMs are not adequately reflected in a timely manner
  • Lack of functionality for generating data extracted from different EHRs and clinicians
  • Vendor resistance to making changes outside of what is required for ONC certification

In conclusion, researchers feel that the challenges found in the study need to be addressed in order for eCQM data abstracted from EHRs to improve care quality. This is important as it relates to federal value-based payment programs, such as the Quality Payment program, and how they will demonstrate value through quality improvement activities and eCQMs.