Premier weighs in on need for EHR standards

The Premier healthcare alliance, made up of more than 2,100 U.S. hospitals and more than 58,999 other healthcare sites, told the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Friday that standards are vital for achieving the full potential of electronic health records.

Premier submitted comments on CMS’ proposed changes to the hospital inpatient prospective payment systems for acute care hospitals.

“CMS’ proposed testing of electronic health record-based submission of measures is a step in the right direction,” Premier officials wrote. “But the proposal builds on the existing system rather than leveraging EHRs’ potential to improve quality and efficiency. For this approach to be successful, standards need to define key clinical concepts in a way that is transferable from system to system, and then used to measure compliance with evidence-based care.”

Premier officials acknowledged that the process would need to evolve over time.

“We recognize that CMS needs to create a system to accept electronic transmissions from EHRs expeditiously,” they said.

Premier supports the testing of electronic submission of a subset of both the stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE) measures from EHRs in 2010. However, it does not recommend testing the ED throughput measure, as this information is most often housed in hospitals’ outpatient systems that may not be linked to their inpatient systems.

Premier also weighed in on quality measures reporting. It applauded CMS for tempering the number of proposed measures for 2011, but officials said hospitals are concerned about the volume of measures under consideration for 2012.

“Before moving forward with measures, CMS should ensure they are NQF-endorsed, validated, field tested and supported by evidence,” Premier officials said. “Further, since one of the cornerstones of quality reporting is transparency, we believe that all aspects of proprietary measures specifications, collection and measurement calculation algorithms should be made publicly available before inclusion in the program.”