Creativity Required

During the 14 September, 2010 HIT Policy Committee meeting, members raised the issue of quality reporting for different purposes. Much of this focused on the difference between quality measures that are reported to health agencies for purposes of meaningful use or public health, vs. the kind of measures that might be used to analyze the individual organization. While the Committee recognizes that the two can be very different, its work will likely remain tailored, at least in the shorter term, to making recommendations that directly address “meaningful use” of EHR systems as specified in the legislation that created the Committee. The Committee was correct to address this limitation. For the time being, this limitation works in favor of hospitals and health systems that view this as an opportunity to “pay themselves first” with the information collected and stored within their electronic systems. I wrote about this concept earlier, and it was encouraging to hear this Committee address the issue, even if they are not planning to directly influence this kind of work.

For the time being then, healthcare providers are not limited to a set of externally constructed metrics to determine local performance. That should be left up to the individual organization, and performance measures should reflect that organization’s vision. This graphic depicts the questions you should be asking about information within your organization.

Data Considerations

Questions About Information Flow

Keep in mind that the answers to these questions are relative, and are subject to the effect of locale and scale. If you already know what you are trying to achieve through the use of information technology, your answers will help define what kind of solutions you need to fulfill that vision. In addition, you’ll start laying the groundwork for a system that is designed to provide feedback about your organization’s performance.

These questions should be asked not only when designing a local system, but they should be asked at the regional, national and global levels too. As a framework, this kind of approach will help reveal commonalities as well as areas that require unique solutions. Additionally, this would help alleviate much redundant work, conflicting requirements, and would provide a clear picture of how standards need to be applied.

In the meantime, thousands of hospitals and health systems are about to embark on a clinical transformation project that can provide, in addition to creating links to larger connectivity and safety goals, information that reflects the individual successes and opportunities yet to come. Take advantage of the data you gather. Report what you must to any required agencies; you’ll get your incentive payment if you do it right, but don’t miss the opportunity to perform self-analysis. You’ll see results faster and can adapt according to your vision, mission and patient population.

-Rod Piechowski

Copyright © 2010, Rod Piechowski, Inc., Consulting

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