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March 6, 2006

Weiner to Determine Health Indicators for Electronic Medical Records

Jonathan Weiner

Jonathan P. Weiner, DrPH, a professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Jinnet Fowles, PhD, senior vice president of research at Park Nicollet Institute, received grants to develop and evaluate a set of quality and safety indicators to be applied within an electronic medical record framework. These “e-indicators” will likely become the future core performance measures for ambulatory and integrated health care systems once they are paper-free.

The grants from The Commonwealth Fund and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation total over $300,000. Weiner also received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The results of this project will be shared widely with delivery systems, researchers, policy makers and information technology vendors across the nation.

“Currently, medical facilities are rapidly moving towards using electronic health records and health information technology. By developing quality indicators now, we can integrate them into systems at their early stages, rather than adding them later in the process,” said Weiner.

Weiner, Fowles, Kitty Chan, PhD, who is an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, and other colleagues will work with a consortium of leading integrated health delivery systems that have already implemented electronic health records. The consortium includes Park Nicollet Health Services in Minnesota, Kaiser Permanente of the Northwest in Oregon, HealthPartners in Minnesota, Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and Deaconess Billings Clinic in Montana. These organizations, it is estimated, serve over 2 million patients, employ over 1,750 full-time physicians and run five hospitals.

Fowles explained that new indicators are necessary because current quality of care indicators barely scratch the surface of what these comprehensive digital databases are capable of. She said, “We need to develop new, more advanced quality indicators. What we are working on now will set the stage for the future, as more and more health records go electronic.”

The researchers plan to work closely with national bodies that are involved in developing quality indicators, such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the National Quality Forum, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the American Medical Association, the Minnesota-based Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of Quality.

Weiner, who is also the deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Health Services Research and Development Center, is an internationally known health services researcher and health policy expert. He is also the leader of a research and development team at Johns Hopkins that has developed case-mix and predictive modeling software widely used across the United States and around the globe. —Kenna L. Lowe

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu. Photographs of Jonathan P. Weiner are available upon request.