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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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What are the key features that my EHR should have to support QI?

In addition to basic features like problem lists, medication lists and computerized order entry, Electronic Health Records typically include many specific features that can be applied towards QI:

  • Panel Management is the ability to identify and report on a particular population of interest, for example all diabetic patients that have not received a HbA1c in the last 3 months.
  • Clinical Quality Dashboards reporting capabilities can facilitate QI by allowing for the collection and reporting of detailed data for patient encounters.
  • Clinical Decision Support (CDS) features include alerts for adverse health events, preventive health reminders, access to knowledge resources, evidence-based clinical guidelines and reporting and trending of lab results. CDS features can also contribute to improving care management workflow and can be used to generate case-specific advice which can guide physicians’ diagnoses.
  • Integration with other clinical systems such as a laboratory information system can facilitate both the ordering of lab tests and lab results delivery in a timely and efficient manner.  An EHR-integrated with a  lab system may also support CDS features such as clinical reminders, access to prior clinical laboratory results, monitoring of health indicators and flagging out-of-range test results.
  • ePrescribing can serve to improve health care quality by contributing to the more efficient and effective management of medication data. The electronic transmittal of prescription information means that the process of ordering and renewal medications is not only made easier but faster as well.  Also, e-prescribing functionality can provide a more accurate view of the patient’s current medications as well as their past medication history.
  • Patient support features of EHRs, such as patient education materials and patient portals, play an important role in encouraging patients to become involved in their healthcare, promoting patient self-management and fostering communication between patients and their providers.

If you plan to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, your EHR or EHR modules must meet the certification standards set by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). For information about EHR certification, please see ONC Standards and Certification for EHRs.  A list of certified EHRs is posted on the ONC website.  

Related Resources:

Quality Improvement with an Electronic Health Record go to exit disclaimer- Annals of Internal Medicine
Standards and Certification for EHRs - Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT
Certified HIT Product List - Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT

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