Partners HealthCare makes EHR clinical data publicly available

By Maria Castellucci | April 10, 2018

Partners HealthCare now allows consumers to use its website to look up how the system performs on certain conditions using data from its electronic health record.

The Boston-based system is the first in the country to make clinical data from its EHR publicly available to consumers, according to Dr. Tom Sequist, chief quality and safety officer at Partners. Hospitals and health systems historically rely on claims data when they publicly display performance data, but the widespread adoption of EHRs enables providers to share their own data with patients.

Sequist argued that EHR data is superior to claims data because the information has been collected by physicians and nurses, so it’s far more detailed.

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“EHR data is a better reflection of clinical care,” he said. “There are a lot of limitations to claims data. The data can be years old … and they lack clinical nuance.”

In order for consumers to view the EHR data, Partners built a tool in the system’s Epic EHR that automatically categorizes and assesses information logged by clinicians into the EHR system. The data are on a variety of conditions like blood pressure control, diabetes care, depression, cancer screening and stroke care. Partners began its systemwide implementation of Epic in 2015, and it was completed in 2017.

However, the data don’t provide a benchmark to compare Partners’ performance treating these conditions to other providers. Sequist said Partners is currently unable to establish a benchmark because no other health systems are publicly reporting this EHR data. “We hope this will spur other health systems to show their EHR data,” he said.

Sequist said the physicians and other providers are supportive of logging the clinical data into the EHR because they are able to use it for quality improvement and compare their performance to their peers. The doctors also trust the EHR data more than the claims data because they have control over how it’s reported. “Now they think the numbers are correct because they’ve been able to participate in the measurement,” he said.

The health system hasn’t made many efforts to inform its patients that this information is available online yet because it wants to display it in a more consumer-friendly way. The data can be accessed through a link on Partners homepage called “Our commitment to quality and safety, See our performance reports.”

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