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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality

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How can Health Information Technology drive QI?

Health information technology (IT) has the potential to enable better care for patients and to help clinicians achieve continual improvements in the quality of care in primary care settings. Researchers speculate that health information technology can support quality improvement efforts, particularly in the areas of billing and administration, documentation, and patient care.  Health IT can also facilitate health care research and data collection on actual clinical data that was previously difficult to obtain resulting in most health-related data originating from claims and patient surveys. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notes that health IT allows comprehensive management of medical information and its secure exchange between health care consumers and providers. Broad use of health IT will:

  • Improve health care quality
  • Prevent medical errors
  • Reduce health care costs
  • Increase administrative efficiencies
  • Decrease paperwork
  • Expand access to affordable care

HHS also states that interoperable health IT will improve individual patient care.  It will also bring many public health benefits including:

  • Early detection of infectious disease outbreaks around the country
  • Improved tracking of chronic disease management
  • Evaluation of health care based on value enabled by the collection of de-identified price and quality information that can be compared.

To facilitate the adoption and use of EHRs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs (also called Meaningful Use), which provide financial incentives to eligible providers and hospitals who demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs.  Meaningful use includes both a core set and a menu set of functional objectives. This program also incorporates clinical quality measures and requires that participants report on at least 6 from a list of 44 clinical quality measures.  In order to qualify for these incentives, your EHR must be certified and you must meet program requirements.  

Related Resources:

Health Information Technology for Improving Quality of Care in Primary Care Settings go to exit disclaimer- Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) 
Office of the National Coordination for Health IT - Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
National Healthcare Quality Report 2008 - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
Overview of Quality Measures - CMS
Systemic Review: Impact of Health Information technology on Quality, Efficiency and Costs of Medical Care go to exit disclaimer- Annals of Internal Medicine
What is Health Care Quality and Who Decides? - AHRQ
The Role of eHealth in Patient Engagement and Quality Improvement go to exit disclaimer- SpringerLink

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
Health Information Technology Toolboxes help health centers, safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers with electronic and online resources and technical assistance to improve patient care.  More>
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