ONC unveils 'popHealth' for EHR-based quality reporting

By Mary Mosquera
11:51 AM

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT began making available today open source software that will let physicians extract data automatically from their electronic health record systems and generate quality reports and analysis on their patients' healthcare.

The "popHealth" prototype software is designed to make it easier for providers to submit summary quality measures or data to public health organizations and federal agencies as part of their existing workflow, according to the ONC announcement.

The software uses established standards and is Web-based.

"Transmission of summary quality data is simpler, less data intensive and more scalable and represents an alternative to traditional methods of data transmission," said Vish Sankaran, director of ONC's Federal Health Architecture team, which developed the solution.

The reporting of quality measures by physicians and hospitals is among the "meaningful uses" of health IT that qualify healthcare providers to receive financial incentives under the HITECH Act.

Physicians may use the quality reports generated with popHealth software to analyze patients across demographic categories, such as age and gender, to establish how well they are managing chronic diseases and identify how their treatments might be improved.

Providers can use the tool to perform their own population health analysis, ONC said.

The software is designed to use the Health Level 7's Continuity of Care Document standard as well as the Continuity of Care Record standard to extract quality data from patients' records in the EHR system, according to ONC.

popHealth supports the ability of physicians to use XML or Web-based versions of Physicians Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) reports to transmit summary data to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other organizations.

popHealth will support other standards in the future as they are defined and developed.

Providers may transmit the summary data to public health organizations and federal agencies via the Connect portal. Connect is a set of tools to enable organizations to exchange formatted health information securely through the Internet.

To safeguard the privacy and security of patient information, popHealth will only use the aggregated report data when connecting to organizations outside the provider's infrastructure, ONC said.

popHealth is be available online at http://www.projectpophealth.org/ .