Although he’s only been on the job for about a week, David Baker, M.D., seems right at home talking about how the Joint Commission can continue to foster an environment of continuous improvement.

Named executive vice president for the division of health care quality evaluation last week, Baker is especially bullish on electronic quality measures.

“There’s already been a lot of work done on e-clinical quality measures and that work is continuing full speed ahead,” Baker told me during an interview earlier this week. “We need to partner with health care organizations not just to measure performance, but to use the logic in the e-clinical measures to develop quality improvement programs.”

Baker has some firsthand experience in that arena. At Northwestern Medicine, where he served as chief of the division of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, 24 electronic measures were built into the workflow in ambulatory clinics. Data was pulled from the electronic health record and linked to clinical decision support.

“You could identify all of the patients who had coronary disease and what percentage were getting antiplatelet therapy,” Baker explains. “That is on the measure side, but it could also be built in alerts and reminders for physicians.”

Additionally, information could be funneled to primary care physicians to do outreach to patients who weren’t on essential medications.

“It was very powerful,” he says.

In his new role at the Joint Commission, Baker will oversee the development of quality evaluation tools; standards, including the National Patient Safety Goals; and survey methods for accreditation and certification programs. Additionally, he’ll lead the organization’s biostatistics and data analysis efforts, as well as initiatives around public reporting of performance data.

Baker says that the organization will continue to review accreditation standards for potential updates with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes, meaning fewer errors and higher quality. In fact, that drive toward quality is a big part of what drew Baker to the new post.

“The most exciting thing is seeing how much the Joint Commission has shifted its focus to quality improvement and helping organizations to achieve quality and safety,” he says.