Certain hospitals improved their care quality performance by meeting stage 1 meaningful use criteria, according to a study published in Health Services Research, Becker’s Spine Review reports.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Study Details

Dartmouth University researchers analyzed data from 3,921 hospitals between 2006 and 2010. They also assessed data on EHR systems from HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

The study focused on quality measures for:

  •  Heart attacks
  •  Heart failure
  •  Pneumonia
  •  Surgical care infection

Key Findings

According to the study, hospitals that transitioned to an EHR system and met meaningful use stage 1 requirements experienced statistically significant improvements in outcomes for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. The study found no significant improvement for surgical care infections.

The study also found that the improvements varied depending on the hospitals’ original performances. Hospitals with the lowest baseline quality performance score saw the largest improvements in performance after meeting the stage 1 meaningful use criteria.

However, the study found that hospitals with high baseline quality performance scores saw a decrease in performance quality after meeting the Stage 1 meaningful use measures.

Eric Johnson — director of the center for digital strategies at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University and principal investigator of the study — said the findings “could be attributable to how hard it is to improve an already high-quality level and that there can be a backlash from health care professionals in using complicated software systems.”

He added, “While it is important to have certain EHR capabilities, hospitals need to go back and improve the care processes along with technology” (Roney, Becker’s Spine Review, 8/14)