The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report on the potential for qualified Clinical Data Registries (CDRs) to improve quality and efficiency. Qualified CDRs are entities established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 to work with physicians to collect clinical information for improving quality and efficiency of care. The GAO report assessed the following:
- Improvements in quality and efficiency of care demonstrated by qualified CDRs;
- HHS’ plans for oversight and requirements for qualified CDRs;
- Steps HHS could take to assist with the development of qualified CDRs; and
- Steps HHS could take to help CDRs’ use of health information technology.
The GAO found that CDRs have shown strength in examining physician performance through tracking and interpreting trends in health care quality over time. However, GAO reviewed studies that provided little insight on methods to improve the efficiency of care. The GAO also found that HHS’ plans for implementing the qualified CDR program are too broad for CDRs seeking to become qualified. Additionally, the GAO noted in the report that HHS could clarify federal privacy requirements for physicians participating in CDRs, as well as facilitate CDRs’ use of health IT.
The GAO made the following recommendations, to which HHS agreed: (1) require qualified CDRs to improve quality and efficiency; (2) require qualified CDRs to show improvement in quality and efficiency; (3) Use expert judgment to monitor qualified CDRs; (4) Reduce barriers to the development of CDRs; and (5) Incorporate key date elements for qualified CDRs in its requirements under the Electronic Health Record incentive programs.