August 6, 2013

Automated quality reporting can result in efficiencies

Kaiser Permanente study finds time savings of up to 50 percent through use of e-measures.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Using electronic health records to automate reporting of quality measures reduces reporting time required for one measure set alone by about 50 percent, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Automated Quality Reporting Through EHRs Can Result in Significant Efficiencies and Care Improvements

“With an increased focus on transparency in the health care industry, we are seeing significant growth in the number of public reporting initiatives, and automated quality reporting allows us to keep up with these initiatives without adding to high overhead costs. For the six measures studied in this paper, we were able to extract between 43 percent and 100 percent of the elements needed for the measures” said Jed Weissberg, MD, senior vice president of Hospitals, Quality and Care Delivery Excellence, Kaiser Permanente. “An added benefit of automated reporting of quality measures is that some data become available real-time, further enabling us to improve care in an expedited manner.”

The Joint Commission

Kaiser Permanente has fully or partly automated reporting for six Total Joint Commission measure sets (acute myocardial infarction, emergency department patient flow, immunizations, the surgical care improvement project, pneumonia and VTE prophylaxis) and time savings resulting from automation were substantial.

If the observed 50 percent reduction in reporting time for just one measure (the surgical care improvement project) is any indication of potential efficiencies, time savings are likely achievable on a broad scale. Overhead costs of public quality reporting are significant. For example, Kaiser Permanente consistently reports on 50 well-established metrics. In addition to improved efficiencies, automated quality reporting allows for immediate access to data, which can more quickly lead to improved care for patients.

“It is great to see an organization put effort into creating a faster and more efficient reporting system for its core measure sets by utilizing the substantial benefits of an electronic health record,” said Jerod M. Loeb, PhD, executive vice president, Healthcare Quality Evaluation, The Joint Commission. “Most of the measures in our core measure sets have been designated as accountability measures by The Joint Commission, which require hospitals to implement care processes that have been directly tied to better patient outcomes, such as providing aspirin to heart attack patients within 24 hours of arrival in the hospital. We believe that our accountability measures are an important component in improving a hospital’s patient care.”

The study also acknowledges the gap between the current and desired states of automated quality reporting. The primary function of electronic health record systems isto capture, store and track clinical data to support care delivery; they were not initially designed to calculate, compile and report on quality measures. As a result, a great deal of the quality reporting supported by EHRs is not fully automated.

“Many electronic health record systems require care providers to enter additional data and provide documentation that may slow down the care process,” said Terhilda Garrido, vice president of Health IT Transformation and Analytics, Kaiser Permanente. “The trick is to make use of the ‘natural digital exhaust’ from existing clinical processes, which can also increase the credibility and accuracy of the data.”

Kaiser Permanente is widely recognized for its leadership in harnessing health IT to improve quality and care delivery. Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, the health care organization’s electronic health record, is one of the most robust and sophisticated in the nation. KP HealthConnect enables all of Kaiser Permanente clinicians to electronically access their patients’ Kaiser Permanente medical records and serves as a model for other care systems.

KP HealthConnect gives providers an important tool to improve the quality of the care and service delivered to members and patients. It helps ensure patient safety and quality care by providing access to comprehensive patient information by supporting care team coordination and communication, and including the latest best-practice research in one place.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9.1 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.