Recently the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research issued a white paper on health information technology (IT) best practices for primary care practices. Health IT is often underused for supporting quality improvement in primary care, and the paper provides information, while encouraging the adoption of IT practices.
The authors conducted a peer-review of the literature, convened an IT technical expert panel, and interviewed clinicians. Lessons from clinicians, practice leaders, and facilitators working with primary care practices include the following concepts:
- “Establishing a dedicated QI team, as well as regular communication between the QI team and the rest of the practice, keeps QI activities progressing and builds these activities into regular operations.
- Transformation can be facilitated by emphasizing that using health IT for QI will ultimately help patients.
- Vision and leadership is critical for transforming into a practice that uses health IT for QI.”
- “Clearly define QI goals, strategies for achieving goals, and how health IT will facilitate the QI process before starting.
- Consider the effects of a new QI process or policy on the entire practice.
- Health IT–generated data are powerful in initially inspiring a practice to pursue QI.
- Continued surveillance and commitment to improving an issue over time is necessary to sustain QI.
- EHRs often do not include every tool a practice wishes to use, and workarounds might be necessary to achieve QI goals.
- Transitioning from using health IT to document visits to using health IT–generated data in a transformative way for QI requires time, training, and workflow shifts.
- Pursue opportunities for HIE, either at the community level or, as a first step, on a smaller scale.
- Health IT is not only a tool for primary care clinicians and staff; it can also be used to engage patients and families.”
IHI specializes in helping medical practices understand and implement new strategies and respond to changes in today’s healthcare environment. To learn how we can help your practice, call: 503-341-0593.