Longer use of electronic health records is not linked to improved quality of care
Research Activities, January 2010, No. 353
Longer use of electronic health records (EHRs) does not necessarily translate into better quality of care, according to a new study. It found no link between the duration of EHR usage and clinical performance quality measures. Researchers analyzed data from two sources. The first was a statewide survey of the adoption and use of EHRs among physicians. The authors also analyzed claims data to determine the level of quality of care according to physician performance on six quality measures: asthma care, diabetes care, cancer screening, mental health, women's health, and well child/adolescent visits.
Between 2000 and 2005, the percent of physicians who reported adopting EHRs and having core functions available in those systems more than doubled. They used these EHR systems an average of 4.8 years. There was no difference in quality performance between users and nonusers of EHRs for each of the six quality measures. In addition, there was no consistent pattern relating the adoption of EHRs to physicians' performance on the quality measures over time. What's more, there was no evidence that quality of care improved with increasing duration of EHR usage.
Intensifying the use of key EHR features, such as clinical decision support, may be needed to realize quality improvement from EHRs, conclude the researchers. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15397).
See "The relationship between electronic health record use and quality of care over time," by Li Zhou, B.Med., Ph.D., Christine S. Soran, Chelsea A. Jenter, M.P.H., and others in the July/August 2009 Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 16(4), pp. 457-464.