CHIME pushes for untangling of quality reporting

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is pleading for clear "next steps" for putting health IT to work on what the organization calls "one of the most daunting challenges providers face today" – a mix of competing ways to measure clinical quality.

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CHIME, which represents more than 1,450 chief information officers (CIOs) and other top information technology executives, made its comments in a letter to Carolyn Clancy, MD, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, responding to a request for information on quality measures.

“Given the current reality of quality measurement, we believe AHRQ should focus its research on defining clear 'next steps' for providers to use health IT in quality measurement,” CHIME requested, in a comment letter signed by Richard A. Correll, president and CEO CHIME and Drex DeFord, CHIME board chair and CIO at Boston-based Steward Health Care.

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CHIME also encouraged AHRQ to help other agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services to “harmonize quality measure efforts as a way to standardize specifications for measures used in multiple reporting programs.”

“We are worried that the goal of 100 percent automation is an extremely long-term vision, given the state of natural language processing and the workflows of providers,” said CHIME officials.

“We recommend that AHRQ look to develop practical ways that both EHRs and other health IT systems can be used to aid current workflows and processes so that abstractors can more efficiently perform quality assurance and CQMs [clinical quality measures] can increasingly be more meaningful.”

“While complete automation is a laudable goal, we believe the more pressing need is to make incremental advancements and disseminate best practices in the near-term," the letter read. "One way to do this would be to focus on harmonization.”

Other key points in CHIME’s letter: