Physicians who use electronic health records more intensively are more likely to use patient registries to improve care
Research Activities, November 2011
Helping medical practices implement electronic health records (EHRs) can give the members of the practice greater ability to create patient lists (known as registries) sorted by diagnosis, laboratory test results, or medication use, a new study finds. The ability to create patient registries allows practitioners to quickly identify patients overdue for followup visits or lab tests, those with abnormal lab results, or those taking a medication that requires frequent monitoring. The researchers analyzed responses from 163 physicians in 134 practices to surveys sent before and after a State pilot program to assist practices in adoption and use of robust EHR software. They found that the physicians were equally able to generate a diagnosis registry before and after the intervention (89 percent in 2005 and 88 percent in 2009). However, the ability of the physicians to generate a laboratory results registry increased markedly (from 44 percent in 2005 to 78 percent in 2009), as did the ability to generate a medication registry (from 33 percent in 2005 to 83 percent in 2009).
The researchers suggest that implementation of EHR had little effect on diagnosis registries, because most billing software had this ability, even in 2005. The study also found that high users of EHR were more likely than low users to generate lists of diabetes patients with overdue tests (55 vs. 30 percent) or abnormal lab results (51 vs. 37 percent), but not lists of patients with overdue visits (60 vs. 51 percent). However, high and low EHR users did not differ in generating any of these three lists for patients with coronary artery disease. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15397). More details are in "Massachusetts E-health project increased physicians' ability to use registries, and signals progress toward better care," by Marshall Fleurant, M.D., Rachel Kell, M.P.H., Jennifer Love, M.D., and others in the July 2011 Health Affairs 30(7), pp. 1256-1264.