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Electronic health records may help cut reporting time for quality measures

Automating the reporting of quality measures through the use of electronic health records resulted in significant time savings at Kaiser Permanente, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Kaiser Permanente so far has automated reporting for six of The Joint Commission’s core measure sets:

  • acute myocardial infarction
  • emergency department patient flow
  • immunizations
  • the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP)
  • pneumonia
  • VTE prophylaxis
According to the study, “Kaiser Permanente has partly or fully automated 21 of the 29 measures in these sets. The number of data elements per measure ranges from eight to 93, and the proportion that is discrete and mapped ranges from 43% to 100%.”

The time savings were significant, particularly with regard to the SCIP reporting, in which the reporting time was cut by about half. “If the observed 50 percent reduction in reporting time for just one measure…is any indication of potential efficiencies, time savings are likely achievable on a broad scale,” according to a Kaiser Permanente news release. “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.”

According to the study itself, the annual cost of reporting on those 50 metrics is “approximately US$6.75 million, excluding expenses related to IT systems, storage, and oversight.”

The researchers acknowledge that plenty of issues remain with regard to automated quality reporting. As the release states, “The primary function of electronic health record systems is to 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.”