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3 EHR Vendors Release Million Hearts EHR Optimization Guides

Heart health quality improvement initiative backed by HHS, CMS, and ONC leads to creation of EHR optimization guides for three major EHR vendors.

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Allscripts, Cerner, and NextGen EHR users now have access to EHR optimization guides for reporting clinical quality measures related to Million Hearts, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

EHR optimization for Million Hearts

The announcement comes by way of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which hosts the three optimization guides.

"Ultimately, these guides facilitate the timely and systematic identification of at-risk patients, helping clinical teams across the country protect their patients from heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events," ONC Chief Medical Officer Thomas Mason, MD, writes on Health IT Buzz.

The clinical quality measures tied to the Million Hearts campaign span four areas:

  • Aspirin therapy when appropriate
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol management
  • Smoking cessation

The federal agencies behind the nationwide initiative have one year remaining to improve baseline scores for several indicators by as many as 30 percent points such as in the case of effectively treating high cholesterol (LDL-C) — with the eventual goal of reducing the two million instances of heart attack and more than two thousand heart-related deaths annually.

Goals of Million Hearts campaign to improve heart health in US

Improving clinical quality report for heart half is one half of the equation for achieving the Million Hearts goal. The other is educating patients on changing their behavior (e.g., diet, medication adherence).

The EHR optimization guides follow an open invitation from ONC to EHR vendors to produce resources for capturing patient health data on a total of seven heart health quality measures:

  • Aspirin when appropriate
  • Blood pressure screening & follow up
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol management
  • Cholesterol management — diabetes
  • Cholesterol Management — ischemic vascular disease
  • Smoking assessment and treatment

According to ONC, the three aforementioned EHR vendors were the first to respond to the invitation. The federal agency continues to petition other EHR vendors to follow suit.

As noted by the staff of Million Hearts, these clinical quality measures already appear as part requirements for major quality reporting programs such as the EHR Incentive Programs and Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). CMS accountable care organizations also have an important role to play in capture these data elements. Additionally, working to ensure that reporting on these quality measures does not prove burdensome to providers remains a top priority for those behind the campaign.

As the EHR optimization guides reveal, implementing these clinical quality measures for heart health require both technical and non-technical changes. On the technical side, EHR users must implement the appropriate data elements. On the non-technical side, EHR users must address physician workflows to ensure that they capture patient health data for Million Hearts appropriately.

Along with the announcement of these available EHR optimization guides, ONC is also issuing a call to action to get more providers to participate in the nationwide initiative. Regional extension centers (RECs) and their physician partners are primary targets as well as the impetus behind the guides.

"Healthcare professionals – many through the Regional Extension Center (REC) Program – have expressed the need for assistance in maximizing EHR functionality to improve the quality and efficiency of care being provided to patients," adds Mason.

For its part, ONC recommends the use of Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) for providers to get started in the Million Hearts program.

The federal agency has made no mention of other EHR vendors that are actively involved in developing their own EHR optimization guides.

Image Credits: Million Hearts

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