Health IT panel recommends 31 IT measures

The Clinical Quality Workgroup presented the ideas to the Health IT Standards Committee

A federal advisory group has recommended 31 performance and data capture measures for incorporation into the Health and Human Services Department’s standard for meaningful use of electronic health records.

Congress authorized HHS to develop certification standards to guide distribution of at least $17 billion in incentive payments under the economic stimulus law. The money will go to doctors and hospitals that buy and demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs starting in 2011.

The Clinical Quality Workgroup of the federal advisory Health Information Technology Standards Committee presented the ideas at a meeting today. The committee will review and forward the advice to HHS for incorporation into rulemaking later this year.

The workgroup’s performance measures include 26 benchmarks already endorsed by the National Quality Forum. They include the percentage of diabetes patients whose disease is under control, the percentage of drug prescriptions submitted electronically, the percentage of hospital patients readmitted within 30 days of being discharged and the percentage of patients who receive annual flu vaccines.

Five more benchmarks were suggested, including guidelines for submitting lab results electronically, supplying public health information and adhering to existing medical data privacy standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Some retooling of existing National Quality Forum measures will be required to identify where the data elements will be located in EHRs, said Dr. Floyd Eisenberg, the forum’s senior vice president of health information resources. He presented the ideas on behalf of Janet Corrigan, chairwoman of the workgroup and president of the forum.

Some of the data will be difficult to capture, Eisenberg said. For example, body mass index is calculated differently for children and adults, and there are no standards for measuring the application of certain medical devices to legs for vein control.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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