Electronic Health Records Improve Ambulatory Care

(HealthDay News) – The use of electronic health records (EHRs) significantly improves the quality of ambulatory care in a community-based setting, according to a study published online Oct. 3 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

To examine the effect of EHRs on ambulatory quality in a community-based setting, Lisa M. Kern, M.D., M.P.H., of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study using data from 2008 for 466 general internists, pediatricians, and family medicine practitioners in ambulatory practices in New York, which represented 74,618 unique patients.

The researchers found that, overall, 44 percent of physicians had adopted EHRs and 56 percent continued to use paper patient records. Four of nine specific quality measures were significantly improved with EHR use, including glycated hemoglobin testing in diabetes and screening for breast cancer, Chlamydia, and colorectal cancer. The composite of the nine measures showed that EHR use correlated with significantly higher quality of care (P = 0.008).

“In conclusion, 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,” the authors write. “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.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the health care industry.

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