Electronic Health Records Improve Ambulatory Care

17 Oct

According to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, electronic health records (EHRs) significantly improve the quality of community-based ambulatory care.

Lisa M. Kern, M.D., M.P.H., of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, conducted a cross-sectional study with her colleagues of 2008 data for 466 general internists, pediatricians, and family medicine practitioners in ambulatory practices in New York. They found that 44 percent of the physicians had adopted electronic health records and 56 percent continued to use paper records for the total of 74,618 patients represented by the physicians in the study.
There were quality measures for nine types of care: eye exams, hemoglobin testing, cholesterol testing, renal function testing for diabetics, colorectal cancer screening, chlamydia screening, breast cancer screening, pediatric sore throat testing, and treatment for children with upper respiratory infections.
Physicians who used EHRs provided higher rates of care than physicians who used paper records, with a significant improvement in four measures: hemoglobin testing in diabetes, breast cancer screening, chlamydia screening, and colorectal cancer screening.
“We found that EHR use is associated with higher quality ambulatory care. This finding occurred in a multi-payer community with concerted efforts to support EHR implementation,” wrote the authors. “In contrast to several recent national and statewide studies, which found no effect of EHR use, this study’s finding is consistent with national efforts to promote meaningful use of EHRs.”