Study: Benefits Limited for Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records have a limited effect on the quality of care provided during ambulatory visits to certain physicians, according to a study published in the July 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the HealthDay/Washington Post reports.
For the study, Jeffrey Linder, associate physician in the division of general internal medicine and primary care at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined ambulatory care visits to nonfederally funded, community, office-based physician practices nationwide and compared those visits using 17 indicators of quality care. The study found no overall difference in the quality of care provided during ambulatory visits with and without the use of EHRs.
"In clinic visits in which doctors did use and didn't use electronic health records, we didn't find clear evidence that EHR use was associated with better quality," Linder said, adding, "There's nothing magical about electronic health records. You need to have tools in place that take advantage of technology to show improvements in quality. You need to do additional work instead of just turning on the computer."
Jay Brooks -- chair of hematology/oncology at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in Baton Rouge, La. -- said, "Electronic medical records are tools, and they are a tool that allows you to do the right thing. Whether or not you do the right thing is a separate question. They (the study authors) didn't show that these parameters were met, but at least you know that they weren't met. Don't blast the medical records for that" (Gardner, HealthDay/Washington Post, 7/11).
An abstract of the study is available online.