BACKGROUND: Electronic health records (EHRs) have been identified as a key tool for quality improvement (QI) in health care. However, EHR data must be of sufficient quality to support QI efforts. In 2005, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began using a novel EHR tool-the CART Program-to support QI in cardiac catheterization laboratories. We evaluated whether data collected by the CART Program were of sufficient quality to support QI.
METHODS: We evaluated the data validity, completeness, and timeliness of CART Program data using a random sample of 200 coronary procedures performed in 10 geographically diverse VA medical centers.
RESULTS: Of 1690 observations in the CART Program data repository, 1664 (98.5%) were valid, as compared to the VA medical record. The CART Program reports were more complete than cardiac catheterization laboratory reports generated prior to CART Program implementation (79% vs. 63.1%, P < .001). Finally, there was a trend toward earlier availability of completed procedure reports to treating providers after CART Program implementation, with 75% of CART Program reports available within 1 day compared to 4 days for reports generated prior to CART Program implementation (P = .06).
CONCLUSIONS: Cardiac catheterization reports generated by the VA’s CART Program demonstrate excellent data validity, superior completeness, and a trend toward more timely availability to referring providers relative to cardiac catheterization laboratory reports generated prior to CART Program implementation. This demonstration of data quality is a key step in realizing CART Program’s aim of supporting QI efforts in VA catheter laboratories.