Electronic Health Records Allow Agencies To Improve Surveillance and Patient Care

Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPHCDCMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPH
Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Washington, DC

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response:Ā  Population health surveillance can be costly, time consuming, and limited, depending on the data source. Electronic Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs) reported to the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program reflect aggregate data on all patients seen by a participating health care provider during a given measure’s reporting period and therefore represent a substantial proportion of the U.S. population. These data are reported as a function of a federal program and are the result of automated extraction from an EHR, which might streamline the reporting process for the health care provider, resulting in data that are a useful resource in public health surveillance.

Medical Research:? What are the main findings?

Response: This first published use of Medicare EHR Incentive Program data for national population surveillance reported on an eCQM that is aligned with Million HeartsĀ®, a national initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The eCQM tracks the proportion of patients with hypertension who had controlled blood pressure during the reporting period. During the first three years of the EHR Incentive Program (2011-2013), approximately 3 in 10 participating health care professionals reported on this eCQM, making it the 5th most commonly selected measure overall. This represented 63,000 ambulatory care professionals and approximately 17 million patients. On average, 62 percent of patients with hypertension had controlled blood pressure. Read more here.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Electronic health record systems provide an opportunity to improve patient care and more easily monitor population health. Using data stored in EHRs, clinicians may be better equipped to generate reports that track the health of high risk patients. In addition, public health could expand its surveillance capabilities, potentially at lower costs and in a more timely fashion, by taking advantage of existing systems such as eCQM reporting. Further alignment of eCQMs across federal and private sector programs will enable clinicians to collect data once and report to selected programs.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research endeavors should begin to maximize the potential data captured through eCQM reporting. State and local public health agencies can partner with state, regional, or local health information exchanges; the state primary care associations; the state Medicaid programs; and health systems to explore the use of existing EHR data for surveillance while still ensuring appropriate safeguards to maintain patient privacy. As EHR implementation becomes more widespread, the data collected by these systems will be invaluable for monitoring numerous clinical conditions.


Using Electronic Clinical Quality Measure Reporting for Public Health Surveillance


May 1, 2015 / 64(16);439-442

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPH CDC (2015). Electronic Health Records Allow Agencies To Improve Surveillance and Patient Care MedicalResearch.com

Last Updated on June 7, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD