How do we measure and improve clinical processes and outcomes?
After installing an EHR and completing an initial technical post-implementation evaluation, the organization can shift its focus to evaluating clinical processes and outcomes. An EHR offers new opportunities to track and analyze patient information. These data are key to enhancing the quality of care.
Clinical process and outcome measurements can be used by an organization for internal and system-wide (external) quality improvement. Measuring clinical processes and outcomes involve four steps: 1) identifying areas for improvement, 2) selecting appropriate measures to assess these areas, 3) obtaining a baseline of current practices using the selected measures and 4) reassessing or monitoring the effect of improvement efforts on measure performance. Obtaining baseline quality measures can help an organization better understand areas that need improvement, prioritize action areas and establish a basis for comparison. Measuring performance repetitively can help an organization determine whether quality improvements implemented have been successful thus far. Quality measures may also be used for external quality improvement programs (e.g., quality improvement organization (QIO)) that collect data and provide feedback regarding performance.
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