Newly Launched AAFP Clinical Data Repository Pilot Aims to Enhance Revenue, Boost Quality

March 30, 2011 03:40 pm Sheri Porter

After many months of preparation, the AAFP's Center for Health IT recently launched the Academy's long-awaited clinical data repository, or CDR, pilot project.

According to Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the Center for Health IT, the 12-month pilot is closely tied to long-term Academy strategies aimed at helping family physicians improve practice revenue and enhance the quality of care delivered to patients.

The pilot also fulfills a directive from the 2008 Congress of Delegates, which adopted a resolution that asked the AAFP to explore the creation and ownership of a secure clinical data repository. The resolution stated that family physicians should be able to both submit and retrieve clinical data from an AAFP-operated CDR, and that doing so would help members qualify for revenue boosters such as pay-for-performance bonuses and patient-centered medical home recognition programs.

The CDR pilot represents a partnership between the AAFP and Emdeon, the nation's largest health care claims processing company.

Interested in Participating in the CDR Pilot?

Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the AAFP's Center for Health IT, is encouraging family physicians who are interested in the AAFP's clinical data repository, or CDR, to sign up( to learn more about how to participate and to receive periodic updates on the pilot's progress.

The center is working with Emdeon, a large claims processing company that touches the claims of nearly 60,000 AAFP members, to find family medicine practices that fit certain criteria. For example, the pilot program needs practices with a high percentage of clinical data, FPs that do electronic prescribing, and practices that have lab connectivity as part of their EHR systems.

However, those factors make up just one piece of the practice selection process, said Waldren. "It's equally important for us to hear from members who are enthused about the CDR project. If you're eager to be considered for the pilot or are interested in assisting us with other aspects of the project down the road, we want to hear from you."

Emdeon's data management and distribution resources -- coupled with the Academy's clinical and health informatics expertise -- should provide a powerful engine to drive the pilot to a successful completion, said Waldren. The AAFP will be the data steward and will "own" the data in the CDR, he added.

"This is more than a 'data dump,'" said Waldren. "Our CDR will generate reports and provide benchmark data that will help members compare their practice data against that of their peers."

In addition, Waldren said better data -- such as the charting of dollars paid by private insurers for particular procedures and evaluation and management codes -- would help physicians make better decisions when it comes time to negotiate payer contracts.

"Electronic health records, as good as they are, often lack the tools to do this kind of work and then pull all that data into reports that are useful to a busy family physician," said Waldren.

The pilot's timeline is divided into three segments:

  • practice selection -- 10 to 12 practices are needed for the pilot -- is under way right now and will be completed within the first three months;
  • active data collection is scheduled for the following six months; and
  • formal analysis of the pilot is set for the final three months of the one-year project.

"The pilot will help us learn more about how the CDR works in the real world," said Waldren. "We'll take some time to make any revisions necessary based on what we learn from the pilot experience," he added. After the CDR is deemed a success, "we'll roll it out to all members."