The New England Journal of Medicine published a study on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 illustrating what can be accomplished when physicians use electronic health records (EHR) technology rather than paper records.
The EHR study consisted of a survey of 27,000 adult diabetics seen by 500 primary care physicians across 46 practices in the Cleveland area. The study found practices utilizing EHR’s earned “annual improvements in healthcare that were ten percent greater than their paper-based counterparts,” and their patients were “significantly more likely to have healthcare and outcomes that align with accepted standards than those where doctors rely on paper records.”
The study points out that only seven percent of patients receiving care at paper-based health records practices met all of the endorsed standards, while roughly fifty percent of patients in practices using EHR received care that met all standards. The study clearly indentified a gap in the quality of health care between patients being cared for at practices who utilize EHR and those who still use paper-based medical records. More importantly, it was found that all care standards were better and adopted faster among patients who were cared for at practices using EHR.Visit us for great deals in relying on technology in order to improve patient care.
The evidence that was produced in this study validates that consistent processes yield consistent results and the effective utilization of EHR technology played a significant role in standards being met.
While the focal point of the study only involved diabetic patients, one has to wonder if the findings would have been different for patient type?
There are many factors that contribute to improved patient outcomes and the majority of them actually fall within the responsibility of the patient. Patients follow through with all physician orders is absolutely critical regardless of the patient type. Things like diet, exercise, routine visits to the doctor, strict adherence to a prescription medication regiment, etc. are all examples where the patient undoubtedly drives the outcome.
If patient behavior drives outcomes, then what role did EHR have with influencing patient behaviors in this study?
In conclusion, the study showed that effective use of EHR technology helps physicians recognize when standards are not being met. When this information is revealed, it serves as a catalyst for the physician to determine how to best engage the patient. For example, EHR tools such as prompts, physician feedback and registries help patients adhere with prescribed regimens and allow doctors to adjust treatment if required. Physicians possessing immediate access to this data are better equipped to meet standards more consistently. The NEJM EHR study confirmed how EHR technology creates the environment for a practice to establish and maintain sound and consistent routines that improves overall patient care.