The CMS is testing the feasibility of transmitting data directly from electronic health records in its Physician Quality Reporting Initiative during the current pilot stage, which tests whether doctors who use EHR systems can meet the requirements to receive a bonus payment, but the money isnt the reason the University of Missouri is participating.
The opportunity to show off its system and possibly make it adaptable to other facilities brought the university on board, according to Harold Williamson, a physician and professor at the universitys School of Medicine. The system, developed by Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner Corp., has the potential to improve quality measurements, he said.
The PQRI provides doctors with financial incentives for reporting quality measures to the CMS, which this year added electronic methods of reporting those measures to make it easier for doctors to participate. CMS has asked six EHR vendors, including Cerner, to help during an initial proof-of-concept stage of the electronic-reporting pilot, according to a spokeswoman. The vendors will test whether their systems can transmit data directly to the CMS in a way that allows doctors to receive financial incentives. The agency will not name its final participating vendorswho must apply through the CMS to be involveduntil August, the spokeswoman said.
During the current feasibility pilot, physicians at the University of Missouri use their EHRs as usual, and Cerner retains the data in a repository and sends information to the CMS from there, Williamson said. The vendor will determine the best method for ensuring the data makes it to the CMS. The universitys 38 family doctors and 36 family residents are participating in the PQRI, he said.
The 1.5% bonus payment doctors might be eligible to receive under electronic reporting is not enough to cover the costs of using an EHR in a hospital, said Williamson, who is also chairman of the medical school's family and community practice. But the chance for researchers and doctors to demonstrate the capabilities of the system to change how medicine is practiced is motivation enough, he said. "This really does have the potential to transform medicine, he said.
The Cerner system allows the family practice to more effectively manage care of its chronically ill patients, Williamson said. In addition to the clinical functions, the system has an analytics package so doctors can discover almost instantaneously whether patients are receiving high quality care, he said. Instead of digging through charts to find out allergies, laboratory results and past medications, the information is provided on a screen, coupled with another window of quality feedback so doctors can spend more time talking to patients and determining changes in care, he said.
The university is conducting research to analyze how well the analytics package in the EHR system has helped to reduce errors, save time and improve care, but so far doctors are encouraged by using the system, Williamson said.
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