Using Electronic Health Records to Measure Quality Improvement Efforts: Findings from a Large Practice Facilitation Initiative

David T. Liss, Yaw A. Peprah, Tiffany Brown, Jody D. Ciolino, Kathryn Jackson, Abel N. Kho, Linda Murakami, Theresa L. Walunas, Stephen D. Persell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Federal incentives for electronic health record (EHR) use typically require quality measure reporting over calendar year or 90-day periods. However, required reporting periods may not align with time frames of real-world quality improvement (QI) efforts. This study described primary care practices’ ability to obtain measures with reporting periods aligning with a large QI initiative. Methods: Researchers conducted a substudy of a randomized trial testing practice facilitation strategies for preventive cardiovascular care. Three quality measures (aspirin for ischemic vascular disease; blood pressure control for hypertension; smoking screening/cessation) were collected quarterly over one year. The primary outcome was a binary indicator of whether a practice facilitator obtained all three measures with “rolling 12-month” reporting periods (that is, the year preceding each study quarter). Results: The study included 107 practices, 63 (58.9%) of which met the primary outcome of obtaining all measures with rolling 12-month reporting periods. Smaller practices were less likely to meet the primary outcome (p < 0.001). Practices used 11 different EHRs, 3 of which were unable to consistently produce rolling 12-month measures; at 33 practices (30.8%) using these 3 EHRs, facilitators met a secondary outcome of obtaining prior calendar year and rolling 3-month measures. Facilitators reported barriers to data collection such as practices lacking optional EHR features, and EHRs’ inability to produce reporting periods across two calendar years. Conclusion: EHR vendors’ compliance with federal reporting requirements is not necessarily sufficient to support real-world QI work. Improvements are needed in the flexibility and usability of EHRs’ quality measurement functions, particularly for smaller practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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