Physician Health IT Use Linked to Quality of Care, Data Suggest
There appears to be a connection between clinical quality and increased usage of health care information technology applications, according to the Integrated Healthcare Association's pay-for-performance results for 2006, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
California physician groups that met IHA's criteria for IT scored 18% higher on clinical quality measures than groups that did not meet the criteria.
The IT component of the program measures how physician groups use applications for:
- Electronic prescribing;
- Drug interaction checks;
- Monitoring lab results;
- Electronic messaging; and
- Reminders for preventive and chronic care.
The program also examines the effect of IT on managing patient populations and its use at the point of care.
The percentage of physician groups that received the highest possible score for IT increased by 23% in 2006, according to Tom Williams, executive director of IHA.
The data show that 50% of medical groups had higher scores in all 14 of IHA's pay-for-performance measures and that patient satisfaction has improved over the past four years of the program.
Patients report the highest satisfaction with their interaction with their physician (88%), followed closely by their actual physician (87%). Lower satisfaction was reported for:
- Coordination of care (74.4%);
- Access to care (74%); and
- Scheduling appointments with specialists (72.5%).
Among all participating health plans, breast cancer screenings for patients ages 52 to 69 increased to 71.9% last year. Excluding Kaiser Permanente, screenings for the same age group jumped from 64.4% in 2003 to 70% in 2006.
IHA's results are based on data from more than 40,000 California physicians in 220 medical organizations, making it the largest pay-for-performance program in the U.S.
Health plans will use the results to calculate their incentive payments for physician groups later in 2007, IHA said (San Francisco Business Times, 7/23). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.