New Jersey Physicians Set Up Registry for Quality Reporting

Dr. Frank Sonnenberg, New Jersey


Physicians in the Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Group (RWJUMG) in New Jersey spend less time on paperwork and more time on patient care thanks to collaboration with the New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center (NJ-HITEC). The medical group and NJ-HITEC partnered to create a data registry to help physicians in the region report quality measurement more efficiently.

“NJ-HITEC has been extraordinarily valuable to us as a partner,” said Frank Sonnenberg, MD, FACP, FACMI, Medical Director of Clinical Information Systems for the medical group, which is the faculty practice of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “We suggested they create their own data submission registry in order to better support the needs of providers in our region.”

NJ-HITEC set up a data registry that allows physicians to submit Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and E-Prescribing (eRx) data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in order to receive federal incentive funding and avoid penalties. Reporting data is a critical component to utilizing health IT to monitor quality outcomes and improve care

Prior to establishment of the registry, Dr. Sonnenberg noted, the only way physicians in the practice could report quality data was by including certain codes on the patient’s bill that is submitted to CMS.

“That method was cumbersome for the clinicians,” he said. As a result, only about 15 percent of the practice’s providers successfully reported PQRS data. That low rate of participation represented a missed opportunity to share data that could aid with quality improvement as well as a significant loss of federal incentive funding for the practice.


Now, with the registry in place, close to 100 percent of the medical group’s Medicare-eligible physicians are reporting their data. According to Dr. Sonnenberg, use of the registry has helped RWJUMG “markedly improve our capture of key quality measures,” an important piece of the medical group’s wide-ranging efforts to optimize use of its EHR to improve patient care.

The registry reached an important milestone in the spring of 2013 when more than 200 doctors from RWJUMG as well as 70 providers from throughout the state and two practices in neighboring Delaware successfully submitted their data through NJ-HITEC’s member portal. O’Byrne said this is one of only about 40 registries in the country available to community-based physicians, and offers an affordable option for practices.

NJ-HITEC Executive Director Bill O’Byrne said the process of setting up the CMS-qualified registry took more than two years, and that Dr. Sonnenberg’s participation in development, testing and implementation was essential to its success.

Lessons Learned:

Dr. Sonnenberg recommends that physicians and practices investigate quality data reporting requirements early in the Meaningful Use Stage 2 process. “It is critical that doctors plan how they will report their quality data because Meaningful Use Stage 2 requires providers to submit clinical quality measures electronically via their EHR or a Data Submission Vendor,” he noted.

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