“Realistically, HIT infrastructure is needed to ensure that relevant data are collected regularly, systematically, and unobtrusively while protecting patient privacy and confidentiality,” AHRQ said in the report.
In order to participate in improvement efforts, providers should be able to utilize their health IT systems to gather data and examine patterns of patient outcomes, AHRQ said. But many systems are not yet up to the task of adequately capturing quality data, and retrofitting those systems is costly and difficult.
“Ideally, performance measures should be calculated automatically from health records in a format that can easily be shared and compared across all providers involved with a patient's care,” according to the report.
AHRQ's latest report delivered some grim statistics including increases in the rates of healthcare-associated infections and poor quality of care for the uninsured. Specifically, researchers found that the rate of postoperative sepsis jumped 8% since the last report and the rate of postoperative catheter-associated urinary-tract infections increased 3.6%.
Additionally, AHRQ determined that when looking at nearly all of the 169 quality measures considered in the report, uninsured individuals were less likely to receive the recommended levels of care when compared with patients who have private insurance.
Still, Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, was optimistic and predicted AHRQ would have good news to share in upcoming reports. In an April 13 conference call, Sebelius said the reforms mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus law, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 will provide the momentum needed for significant changes in patient care.