Understanding Electronic Clinical Quality Measures



The emergence of the electronic health record (EHR) brought with it many changes affecting health care organizations. An EHR helps medical professionals use technology to document and track medical care they deliver to their patients.

In 2014, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established the Meaningful Use (MU) program, which also required medical facilities to include electronic clinical quality measures on their EHRs. CQMs track the quality of care patients receive from medical professionals. By requiring CQMs on EHRs, patient care can easily be tracked, including:

  • Care coordination
  • Clinical processes
  • Health outcomes
  • Patient engagement
  • Public health

With the goal of improving the quality of care, patient engagement, and reducing costs, CQMs help CMS align practitioners’ behaviors to measures that prove to be drivers.

Extra Requirements Burden Medical Professionals



Medical professionals want their health care systems to be effective, efficient, patient-centered, and equitable, but increasing documentation places a strain on the system. Beyond providing care for patients, doctors and other medical professionals have to collect, organize and submit additional patient information to each program.

With many practitioners participating in multiple programs, it became increasingly burdensome to submit requirements for multiple programs when you consider the number of measure sets. The Meaningful Use program has three measure sets: VTE, Stroke, and ED Throughput. Unfortunately, the burden of submitting the data led to submissions of inaccurate data, which can be dangerous and costly if you examine the bigger picture. CMS did not provide guidelines for performance and accuracy, so the data in CMQs is not always reliable.

The Case of Inaccurate Electronic Clinical Quality Measures

CMQs, also known as e-measures can be inaccurate due to the following:



Missing information – E-measures contain information found in the certified EHR technology (CEHRT). If key information is missing from the CEHRT, then this information will be omitted from CMQs. With a suspected accuracy rule looming, medical facilities can easily reduce inaccuracies caused by CEHRT by creating interfaces between the system and the departments.

Poor Data – Workflow and documentation variations can affect the integrity of the data stored in systems. Without an effective checks and balance system in place to enhance data integrity, many medical facilities continue to report inaccurate data.

The Benefits of Electronic Clinical Quality Measures

It is a mistake to assume that CQMs are a complete waste of time, though. There are many benefits associated with using CQMs with EHRs, including:

Improve resource utilization – Since CQMs contain data many physicians and medical professionals had abstracted, they no longer have to worry about this problem. They can now reassign the employees they used for abstraction to tasks that make better use of their time, including high-value analysis and improvement activities.

CMS can streamline reporting – With the requirement of CMQs, CMS can adjust reporting requirements in an effort to reduce the burden many medical professionals have from participating in programs.

Improve coordination of care – By incorporating CMQs on EHRs, medical professionals can glean information about their patient’s health and increase the chances of the patient receiving better outcomes, which wasn’t possible in the past.



Creates a library of information – Although the system is flawed and full of inaccurate data currently, once CMS begins the process of requiring accurate data, the wealth of information found within the system will become invaluable to medical professionals.

If you are a medical professional hoping for the obliteration of CMQs, it won’t happen; however, your burden may soon lighten. With whispers that CMS will require CMQs to reflect accurate data, your practice or health care facility will benefit in other practice areas. With fewer responsibilities, your staff can focus on the different aspects and nuances of electronic clinical quality measures.