Clinical Quality Measure Exchange is Not Easy

Ann Fam Med. 2021 May-Jun;19(3):207-211. doi: 10.1370/afm.2649. Epub 2021 May 10.


Purpose: The Trial of Aggregate Data Exchange for Maintenance of Certification and Raising Quality was a randomized controlled trial which first had to test whether quality reporting could be a by-product of clinical care. We report on the initial descriptive study of the capacity for and quality of exchange of whole-panel, standardized quality measures from health systems.

Methods: Family physicians were recruited from 4 health systems with mature quality measurement programs and agreed to submit standardized, physician-level quality measures for consenting physicians. Identified measure or transfer errors were captured and evaluated for root-cause problems.

Results: The health systems varied considerably by patient demographics and payer mix. From the 4 systems, 256 family physicians elected to participate. Of 19 measures negotiated for use, 5 were used by all systems. There were more than 15 types of identified errors including breaks in data delivery, changes in measures, and nonsensical measure results. Only 1 system had no identified errors.

Conclusions: The secure transfer of standardized, physician-level quality measures from 4 health systems with mature measure processes proved difficult. There were many errors that required human intervention and manual repair, precluding full automation. This study reconfirms an important problem, namely, that despite widespread health information technology adoption and federal meaningful use policies, we remain far from goals to make clinical quality reporting a reliable by-product of care.

Keywords: certification; family physicians; health care; health information technology; quality indicators; quality measures.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Certification
  • Humans
  • Meaningful Use
  • Medical Informatics*
  • Physicians, Family
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*