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Editorials |

The Journey to Electronic Performance Measurement

Helen Burstin, MD, MPH
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From National Quality Forum, Washington, DC.

Potential Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed. Forms can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M12-2995.

Requests for Single Reprints: Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, National Quality Forum, 1030 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20005; e-mail, hburstin@qualityforum.org.


Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(2):131-132. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-158-2-201301150-00009
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In this issue, Kern and colleagues provide important insight into the validity of electronic measures used in primary care practice. The editorialist calls for more implementation research to arrive at electronic accountability measures that we can use with confidence, as well as greater collaboration among key stakeholders, including clinicians, measure developers, vendors, and researchers.

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Importance of Natural Language Processing in Electronic Health Records
Posted on January 22, 2013
Charles R Welford M.D.
University Of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford
Conflict of Interest: Author of Welford Chart Notes.I received no funding in support of this work.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Burstin regarding the critical importance of natural language processing to allow physicians to efficiently enter structured data into electronic health records.

Welford Chart Notes is an electronic health record, certified for meaningful use, which has been sold throughout the United States for the past 20 years (1,2). Since its inception, it has utilized natural language processing to allow the user to enter a free text note and have it automatically interpret the note and populate the other sections of the chart (allergies, medications, problems, test results, orders, referrals, demographic information, history, etc.) with structured data, thus allowing a wide variety of alerts and decision support to be triggered in real time. This allows for more complete and accurate capturing of data for quality measure assessment, as pointed out by Dr. Burstin.

Thus this technology has been commercially available for quite some time.

1. Comprehensive Computerized Patient Record-Keeping Using Real-Time Natural Language Text Interpretation and Physician Quality Reminders.Presented and published in abstract form at the 1993 Spring Congress of the American Medical Informatics Association, St. Louis, Missouri, May 9-12,1993.

2. Fisher GR: Dr. Welford's Chart Notes Program. Ann Int Med 1995;122:887.

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