Hospitals submit data in electronic form on a series of quality measures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and receive scores on their performance. Increasingly, the clinical information from which hospitals derive the quality data for CMS is stored in information technology (IT) systems.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to examine (1) hospital processes to collect and submit quality data, (2) the extent to which IT facilitates hospitals' collection and submission of quality data, and (3) whether CMS has taken steps to promote the use of IT systems to facilitate the collection and submission of hospital quality data. GAO addressed these issues by conducting case studies of eight hospitals with varying levels of IT development and interviewing relevant officials at CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In its report the GAO recommended that the secretary of HHS identify the specific steps the department plans to take to promote the use of health IT for the collection and submission of data for CMS's hospital quality measures and inform interested parties about those steps.