Chart Audits in Quality Improvement
QI initiatives may be defined as small-scale cycles of interventions that are linked to assessment, with the goal of improving the process, outcome, and efficiency of complex systems of healthcare. Chart audits are often used as part of QI efforts. It is important to note that chart audits are not done to root out bad quality, but rather to measure quality.
[For more information on Quality Improvement, see
Module: What is Quality Improvement?]
A chart audit for QI measures how often and how well something is being done (or not done). For example, a pediatric practice might review their charts to see how often the chicken pox vaccine is offered, given, or declined. If the audit determines that the vaccine is not being offered or given as recommended, then there is room for improvement. The same practice could review the panels of individual providers within the group, to see if they differ in performance on this measure.
A chart audit is one of multiple data sources available for QI. Other examples include patient surveys, discharge summary reviews, billing/claims data, and employee feedback.
Going back to our example of the Sleepytown Community Health Center:
Suppose the chart audit reveals documented readings for only 45% of the PPDs placed. Where could you look to figure out what’s going wrong?