After identifying meaningful goals, improvement often begins with defining the workflow and process updates likely to achieve the desired results. Improvement experts often observe that all improvement represents change, but not all changes lead to improvement. Organizations must continuously evaluate whether their process changes are having the desired effects. If not, they can make further modifications until they achieve their performance improvement goals.
Structured tools that help document and manage processes, as well as any challenges or barriers, help monitor and optimize the impact of improvement approaches. Ongoing measurement and process assessment is critical to identifying success and opportunities for further progress. Refer to the Measure Results page for information about eCQMs and other quality measures that may aid the monitoring and continuous quality improvement process.
Clinical Decision Support (CDS)
The goal of a robust clinical quality improvement program is to enable health care providers and patients to make use of all assets and resources available to them, effectively and efficiently, to maximize safety, quality, and outcomes of care concordant with patients’ values. Clinical Decision Support (CDS) is a health IT tool that can offer relevant information at opportune times to help health care providers and patients needed to make better care decisions. When properly integrated with workflows that respect clinicians’ and patients’ experience of the care process and the clinician-patient relationship, CDS can be an effective tool for managing the increasingly large and complex volumes of data pertinent to clinical decisions.
CDS uses patient-specific information and clinical knowledge such as evidence-based guidelines to intelligently manage and display data so that the right information is presented at the times to the right people and in usable ways to support safe, high-quality care. The majority of CDS applications operate as components of comprehensive EHR systems, although stand-alone CDS systems are also used. Data and interoperability standards are evolving rapidly to support more sophisticated CDS applications and better use the data captured in the routine course of care. For those interested in the technical details of how health IT captures and analyzes data to support clinical quality tools such as CDS and eCQMs, the CMS-ONC eCQI Resource Center provides extensive information about current quality data standards.