We’re becoming increasingly wired in health care, as electronic health record (EHR) and health IT (HIT) systems expand into all aspects of medicine. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), more than 400,000 new providers have adopted or are “meaningfully using” EHRs since the EHR Incentive Program was established in 2011.¹ Meanwhile, hundreds if not thousands of providers will likely upgrade or replace their HIT systems soon. Yet, the American Medical Association (AMA), whose clinicians are on the front lines of such systems, is calling for a significant overhaul of the Meaningful Use program. They note that more than three quarters of eligible professionals still can’t attest to Meaningful Use because of the time, effort and cost involved.²

In order to optimize quality measures and improve reporting and data analysis, we need to focus relentlessly on usability.

Here are five steps providers and vendors can take to extract more actionable health care data from HIT and EHR systems and improve the health of patients and the business health of provider organizations:

  1. Work together to define the right measures and determine how that information can best be captured. Addressing such questions up front makes it easier to collect desired data.

  2. Assign the task to staff members who understand how the data contributes to their work and improves patient health. This helps to improve capture rates and information quality.

  3. Make data capture part of the work clinicians are already doing. During a busy day, people don’t want to think about the steps they can take to collect better data. It needs to fit into their workflow.

  4. Normalize data with standards so information from various locations can be shared or combined easily. This will save time, prevent gaps in the patient record, and improve usability.

  5. Don’t try to capture everything. Instead, focus on the information that is needed most. Clearly defining the goals can save clinicians’ precious time and help them accomplish what’s important.

If we define the right health care data, make it easy and intuitive to capture it, and prove the value of the surrounding analytics, clinicians will come to rely on their systems and not the other way around.

This blog post originally appeared on McKesson's Better Health 2020 blog on March 24.


Michael Blackman

About the author

Michael Blackman, M.D., is chief medical officer at McKesson.
Learn more about McKesson’s Better Health 2020 initiative to promote the strategic use of IT solutions to improve the health status of patients and the business health of companies and organizations serving the industry.