Electronic health records shown to improve the quality of patient care

A new study by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers provides compelling evidence that electronic health records (EHRs) enhance the quality of patient care in a community-based setting with multiple players, which is representative of how medicine is generally practiced across the United States.

The use of EHRs is on the rise, in part because the federal government has invested up to $29 billion in incentives promoting the meaningful use of these systems, with the aim of tracking and improving patient outcomes. Previous studies have provided conflicting evidence about the impact of EHRs, and until now it had been not clear whether they improved the quality of patient care, particularly in typical communities that use commercially available systems.

‘The previous studies on the effects of electronic health records in the outpatient setting have been mixed,’ says the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Lisa M. Kern, associate professor of public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. ‘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. This increases the generalisability of these findings.’

‘This study starts to grow the evidence that the use of these systems can systematically improve the quality of care, although their maximum value likely lies in their ability to support new health care delivery models,’ says the study’s senior investigator Dr. Rainu Kaushal, director of the Center for Healthcare Informatics and Policy and the Frances and John L. Loeb Professor of Medical Informatics at Weill Cornell Medical College. ‘The findings of this study lend support to the very significant investments in health information technology that are being made by the federal government, states, and health care providers.’

This study was conducted with the Health Information Technology Evaluation Collaborative (HITEC)