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Clinical Quality Measures: Perceptions and Reality

Many new EHR users currently view clinical quality measures as just another item on the checklist towards demonstrating meaningful use.  However, veteran EHR users, like Northwest Health Services, Inc., see clinical quality measures as an important tool that enables providers to distinguish between perceptions and reality when it comes to patient care and outcomes.
 “On the Road to EHR Success” traveled to St. Joseph to speak with Raman Seth, MD, a Family Practice physician and chief medical information officer for Northwest Health Services, Inc.  Seth said providers at his health center have embraced clinical quality measures, but acknowledged it took time for providers to get to this position. 

When Northwest Health Services generated their first clinical quality measures report seven years ago, the results surprised them.  Providers worked very hard to deliver the best in health care; but, the reports reflected occasional gaps. Although providers may not have been pleased by these reports, they accepted the results and took immediate action to improve their performance.  Today, their outstanding efforts to improve care is easily seen in Northwest Health Services’ decreased hospitalizations, significant reduction in duplicated labs and the increase in patient education.

Northwest Health Services continues its quest to expand and perfect its use of electronic health records. They are currently working with the Missouri Primary Care Association, a Missouri Health Information Technology Assistance Center partner, to achieve meaningful use of its certified EHR.  They are also participating in a regional health information exchange, the Lewis and Clark Information Exchange (LACIE), and are also implementing measures to improve patient satisfaction through increased physician-patient eye contact during office visits. 
Seth encouraged new EHR users to be open to the new and valuable perspective clinical quality measures offer on health care.  He recommended new EHR users quickly master the correct method to collect and record the clinical quality measures data. He said physicians have a tendency to free text on the EHR, meaning the data are placed in the notes sections of the EHR instead of its proper place in a dropdown menu or checkbox.  He warned that although the provider may be able retrieve the information during the next visit, the information is not stored in the database and will not be reflected in a database query.  Learning how to do it right the first time around will make it easier for the provider and improve the accuracy of the data. 
Seth’s full story can be viewed on “On the Road to EHR Success,” a series of video stories on the adoption of electronic health records from the perspective of Missouri health care providers.  These insightful stories inspire providers to embark on their own EHR transformation. To view this story, visit the “On the Road to EHR Success” page on the MO HIT Assistance Center’s Website.
For information on the Medicaid and Medicare EHR incentive programs, EHR adoption, or how the MO HIT Assistance Center helps health care providers adopt and achieve meaningful use of certified EHRs, please visit the Missouri Health Information Technology Assistance Center Website, E-mail us, or call us toll-free 1-877-882-9933.

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