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Measuring the Effects of Health Information Technology on Quality of Care: A Novel Set of Proposed Metrics for Electronic Quality Reporting

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Background: Electronic health records (EHRs), in combination with health information exchange, are being promoted in the United States as a strategy for improving quality of care. No single metric set exists for measuring the effectiveness of these interventions. A set of quality metrics was sought that could be retrieved electronically and would be sensitive to the changes in quality that EHRs with health information exchange may contribute to ambulatory care.

Methods: A literature search identified quality metric sets for ambulatory care. Two rounds of quantitative rating of individual metrics were conducted. Metrics were developed de novo to capture additional expected effects of EHRs with health information exchange. A 36-member national expert panel validated the rating process and final metric set.

Results: Seventeen metric sets containing 1,064 individual metrics were identified; 510 metrics met inclusion criteria. Two rounds of rating narrowed these to 59 metrics and then to 18. The final 18 consisted of metrics for asthma, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, medication and allergy documentation, mental health, osteoporosis, and prevention. Fourteen metrics were developed de novo to address test ordering, medication management, referrals, follow-up after discharge, and revisits.

Discussion: The novel set of 32 metrics is proposed as suitable for electronic reporting to capture the potential quality effects of EHRs with health information exchange. This metric set may have broad utility as health information technology becomes increasingly common with funding from the federal stimulus package and other sources. This work may also stimulate discussion on improving how data are entered and extracted from clinically rich, electronic sources, with the goal of more accurately measuring and improving care.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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