Could EHRs Help Make Patient Injury Penalties More Fair And Accurate?

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Dr. Ashish K. Jha, a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health, published an article on Sunday arguing that the metrics being used to determine which hospitals will face Affordable Care Act penalties for patient injuries incurred in hospitals needs to modified in order to truly reflect which providers place a greater emphasis on patient safety. Jha contends that the current metric – Hospital Acquired Conditions (HACs) – is imperfect since it relies on Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs), which in turn relies on hospital billing data.

After poring through CMS’s HAC database, Jha and his colleagues concluded that many providers were systematically disadvantaged due to their size or geographic locations, and that several facilities renowned for their patient safety emphasis scored poorly and incurred penalties.

“This gets us to the actual solution: harnessing the power of meaningful use in the Electronic Health Records incentive program,” concludes Jha. “We need clinically-based, high quality patient safety metrics. Electronic health records can capture these far more effectively than billing codes can.”

Read through the CMS data and Jha’s piece here.