Health IT

Health information technology (health IT) helps health care professionals manage patient care securely and efficiently through the use of electronic health records (EHRs). Learn more about health IT and access health IT-related tools and resources that enable easier clinical quality reporting and improvement.

About Health IT and EHRs

In 2004, Executive Order 13335 called for the widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by 2014. Five years later, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) included the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health (HITECH) Act, which provided significant funding for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) was charged with creating standards and criteria for certifying EHR technology. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was responsible for incentivizing eligible providers to implement certified EHR systems and demonstrate that they can use them meaningfully to improve the quality, efficiency, and safety of patient care through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

The certification and demonstration criteria covered aspects of electronic clinical quality measure reporting, clinical decision support, e-prescribing, recording and charting changes in vital signs, and easily providing patients electronic access to their health information through patient portals and other modes (see the ONC Health IT Playbook for information on these topics and more).

Since 2012, Million Hearts® has leveraged and aligned with meaningful use requirements to help achieve the initiative’s goals by streamlining the reporting burden for clinicians and providing useful cardiovascular disease-focused health IT solutions.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) establishes new ways to pay physicians for caring for Medicare beneficiaries. For example, MACRA calls for the creation of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) as part of the Quality Payment Program (QPP).

MIPS will consolidate components of three existing programs:

  • Medicare EHR Incentive Program for eligible professionals
  • Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS)
  • Physician Value-based Payment Modifier (VM)

MIPS will continue the focus on quality, resource use, and use of certified EHR technology in a cohesive program that avoids redundancies. In 2017 and beyond, Million Hearts® will leverage and align with requirements of MIPS including its clinical quality measure reporting and clinical practice improvement activities.

Featured Resource

Million Hearts® EHR Optimization Guides

Million Hearts® EHR Optimization Guides

The EHR Optimization Guides, developed by the ONC, help healthcare professionals leverage their EHR systems to excel in the ABCS. Through helpful step-by-step instructions, the guides illustrate how providers can use their EHR products to find, use, and improve data on the Million Hearts® clinical quality measures. Ultimately, these guides facilitate the identification of at-risk patients, helping clinical teams across the country protect their patients from heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events.


Tools & Resources

  • Million Hearts® Clinical Quality Measures Alignment
    To reduce the reporting burden on professionals and focus quality efforts to achieve the greatest impact on outcomes, Million Hearts® staff worked with public and private partners to align and embed a focused set of evidence-based clinical quality measures into major quality reporting initiatives. These measures represent key outcomes related to the ABCS (Aspirin when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation).
  • EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge
    The challenge, launched by the ONC in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was developed to uncover practices that have used clinical decision support to implement successful evidence-based hypertension treatment protocols.
  • Population Health Management Software: An Opportunity to Advance Primary Care and Public Health Integration [PDF–788K]
    This report was developed by the Public Health Informatics Institute to provide guidance to health care providers and public health agencies on selection and use of population health management software products and the data they can provide.
  • Guide to Improving Care Processes and Outcomes in Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) created the guide to help improve performance on targets like hypertension control. It provides proven strategies and tools that providers can use to enhance care processes and outcomes for the Million Hearts® ABCS measures, and beyond. The approach provides a framework and tools for documenting, analyzing, sharing, and improving key workflows and information flows that drive performance on high-stakes care performance measures.
  • Guide for Implementing e-Referral Using Certified EHRs [PDF-1.8M]
    The North American Quitline Consortium created these recommended set of standards using established EHR technology to create bidirectional e-referrals between healthcare systems and providers of tobacco cessation counseling.
    The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has created a bi-directional e-referral system for tobacco cessation, diabetes self-management, and beyond. View the PDF [PDF–196K].
  • What is a patient portal?” FAQ
    This page from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provides guidance and resources to clinicians to implement a patient portal. A patient portal is a secure online website that gives patients convenient 24-hour access to personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection.

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