Health IT and EHRs Mean Better Healthcare

Study Says: Positive Correlation Between EHRs and Quality of Healthcare

If you’re looking for a way to improve the quality of care that you provide to your patients, all you may simply need to do is adopt electronic health records (EHRs) if you haven’t done so already. That’s because according to a new study, physicians who transition over to digital records are able to enhance the quality of patient care in a community-based setting quite significantly, especially for patients diagnosed with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, and chlamydia.

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College led the study, which was originally conducted to investigate whether the federal government’s $29 billion investment in EHRs to show the meaningful use of digital systems was well-spent. For the study, researchers collaborated with the Health Information Technology Collaborative (HITEC)—a New York based multi-institutional program designed to evaluate the impact of health IT strategies. The study used baseline year data gathered from more than 500 physicians in ambulatory practices and 75,000 patients with five different health plans (including two national, two regional, and one Medicaid health plan) in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

Researchers discovered that physicians who used EHRs scored significantly higher on the quality of healthcare provided, validating the positive correlation between EHRs and healthcare. Until recently however, no such study could find the positive correlation experts say.

“This is one of the first studies to find a positive association between the use of EHRs and quality of care in a typical community-based setting, using an off-the-shelf electronic health record that has not been extensively tailored and refined,” said lead researcher Doctor Lisa M. Kern in a press release. “This increases the generalizability of these findings.”

Of course, these findings shouldn’t be all that surprising, especially with some of the features that EHRs provide—including digital allergy reminders and drug-related warnings so that a physician doesn’t accidently prescribe or administer the wrong medication  as well as other features that help a physician keep better track of a patient’s medical history in a legible format. EHRs can also help prevent physicians from ordering unnecessary and costly exams and tests.

The study was published in the October issue of the The Journal of General Internal Medicine.

About the Author: Amelia Wood is a freelance health writer covering EHRs and medical billing and coding. She primarily writes for Medical Billing & Coding.