Quality Measurement Enabled by Health IT: Overview, Possibilities, and Challenges

July 10, 2012

Quality measurement is a critical element of the strategy to improve the quality of care delivered in the U.S. health care system. Until recently, quality measurement relied almost exclusively on the use of electronic claims data, manual chart abstraction, and patient surveys. However, there has been enormous, recent growth in the adoption of health IT, which has the potential to enable superior quality measurement. By 2011, approximately 35 percent of non-Federal, acute care hospitals in the United States had adopted at least a basic electronic health record (EHR) system, up from 16 percent in 2009.1 During that same time period, adoption of EHRs increased from approximately 22 percent to 34 percent among office-based physicians.2 This is a pivotal time to examine performance measurement enabled by health IT due to the convergence of increased health IT adoption and the implementation of new, patient-centered reimbursement and care delivery strategies (e.g., bundled payment, accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical homes).