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A New Handbook to Support Health IT for Quality Improvement

Jessie Gerteis MPH, Senior Associate; Division of Health & Environment; Lynn Hoffman MPH, Senior Associate; Division of Health & Environment


June 10, 2022

Primary care practices need to be increasingly savvy in the use of electronic health records (EHRs) and other health information technology (IT) in order for them to implement new evidence-based approaches to care, engage in quality improvement (QI) activities, and participate in value-based payment programs. External practice facilitators/coaches who focus on clinical health IT support—also known as health IT advisors—can help practices effectively collect and use health data. Even when a health system or large practice has internal staff with health IT expertise, working with an external health IT advisor can be valuable for a practice: they bring best practices they have learned in their work across many different EHRs and health IT platforms, as well as solutions to issues experienced across practices.

Developed under the EvidenceNOW Dissemination and Planning contract with Abt Global, AHRQ has released Obtaining and Using Data in Practice Improvement: A Handbook for Health IT Advisors and Practice Facilitators. This new resource provides practical information and strategies to support effective use of health IT for QI and practice transformation in primary care, and includes helpful tips, examples, and use cases. The handbook assumes readers have a basic level of comfort with using EHRs and with extracting and using electronic data for QI. It covers the following, and provides links to additional information on advanced health IT topics:

  • General strategies for health IT advisors
  • Working with EHRs
  • Clinical decision support
  • Patient portals and engagement technologies
  • Incorporating patient-generated data for QI
  • EHR use cases for QI
  • Alternative data sources for QI
  • Review of clinical quality measures, and
  • Review of risk stratification in primary care.