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Using EHRs to Drive Quality Improvement

Physicians have long suspected that part of the reason that the government and the insurance industry are so gung-ho about EHR adoption is to keep a closer eye on health-care providers. And here is an example of just that.

A Blue Cross Blue Shield provider (Highmark) is developing quality measures for its providers (internists, family practitioners and cardiologists) that are tied to financial incentives.

According to their spokesman, “Ideally, use of health information technology will transform care through access to full information at the point of care, use of decision support to assure better adherence to evidence-based guidelines and coordination of care among multiple caregivers. In so doing, we expect to see a reduction in unwarranted variation and improvement in patient safety.”

There is no doubt that the widespread use of EMR will lead to better documentation and therefore enhanced patient safety. But we must also be aware of the potential for increased control over the practice of medicine.

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