Measurement is essential to optimizing health care. It offers insight into provider performance, identifies areas for improvement, and increases transparency. Measurement is integral to value‐based payment programs, which payers are increasingly using to reward providers for the quality and results of the care they deliver to patients.
Common types of measures used to assess health care quality include structure, process, outcome, patient experience, and cost. The data that health IT helps manage to support patient care can be re-used for various types of measures, alone or in combination with other types of data such as results of patient surveys. Measures empower providers, from the largest hospital system to the smallest physician practice, to assess the quality and results of their current processes and prioritize improvements.
The data needed to calculate quality measures can be reported to a registry. A registry is a repository of information about individuals or populations, often focused on a specific health condition or clinical specialty. Clinicians and researchers can use information in registries to monitor and improve clinical quality, as well as for research to develop new knowledge. Registries might choose to collect, calculate, and report measures using electronic clinical quality measures or other mechanisms. It has become increasingly common to report quality data through a registry as part of a payment program.
Electronic Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs)
eCQMs are measures of health care quality specified to be calculated using electronic clinical data stored in and shared by health IT systems, such as EHRs. eCQMs differ from older clinical quality measures because they rely on structured (formally coded) data fields analyzed by computers rather than expert abstraction from paper charts, or a combination of structured and free-text fields of an EHR. They convert information about care processes or outcomes into a rate or percentage that allows providers, facilities, and patients to measure and evaluate aspects of care. Once eCQMs have been integrated into a health IT system, they can run in the background, seamlessly measuring practice results.
For more information about how eCQMs are calculated and used, please visit the eCQI Resource Center.