First, let’s get right to the heart of the matter: What factors limit Health IT’s ability to support quality measurement and quality improvement?
My response is based on field experience in supporting hundreds of clinics and practices who are using more than 30 different Population Management(PM)/Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems.
I would like to tell you that we have figured out why health IT investment has not resulted in more dramatic improvements to outcomes of care, and that we have the solution – but we do not.
What I can share with you are three of the top challenges we have experienced in helping organizations realize the benefit of health IT adoption.
Limitations Within EHRs Yield Roadblocks
The first challenge is that of standards and interoperability. EHRs say they interoperate, but what they don’t say is at what level. Much of the data in EHRs about patients is customized, unstructured data. Even within the same EHR, templates allow a patient’s medical data (e.g., smoking status) to be stored in different locations of the database using different representations. This means that while the definition is the same, the information available is not. This lack of EHR vendor standardization and inability/unwillingness to share customized, unstructured data cripples efforts to address Meaningful Use (MU) and severely limits the analytic capability of EHR data.