EHRs Receive Special Focus in New Quality Strategy Report

Electronic health records get a special nod in the new national quality strategy release this week by the Department of Health and Human Services. The strategy, which was called for under the Affordable Care Act, is an initiative designed to establish priorities at the local, state and national levels to improve the quality of healthcare in the U.S. Under the category “improving care coordination through health information technology,” the quality strategy states how the HITECH Act allows HHS to “establish programs to improve healthcare quality, safety and efficiency through the adoption of health information technology, including EHRs and private and secure electronic health information exchange.” It also looks at the concept of meaningful use and how information technology will improve quality “by making needed clinical information accessible to all appropriate providers…in a more complete and timely fashion than paper records.” While mentioning how increased adoption of EHRs has the power to “cut healthcare costs, reduce paperwork, improve outcomes and give patients more control over their healthcare,” examples are given of how EHRs are making a difference at the clinical level. It notes how a recent review, published by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, contained several examples of how health information technology can, for example, increase the likelihood that patients receive life-saving treatment – or lower the frequency of a common type of hospital-acquired infection.

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