[ Wednesday, July 11, 2007 ]


EMRs Don't Necessarily Improve Care: Sorry, I file this under "duh," but HealthDay and the Washington Post are reporting on a study that shows little improvement in the quality of care of walk-in patients when a practice has electronic medical records, versus practices with records kept on dead tree components (aka paper). It's not clear how big the study was, and it appears to be a side-by-side comparison rather than a before-and-after comparison of the same practices.

EMRs are better at producing economic efficiencies than quality improvements. I would suspect they can also lend quality improvements, but I would assume that would come more in instances where inconsistent care led to quality problems, such as with patients in long hospital stays or with chronic medical conditions (rather than walk-ins). I would have been surprised if the study had found significant quality differences based simply on whether a practice used or didn't use EMRs. It would have been interesting to see a study comparing same medical practices before and after implementation of EMRs, to see whether the same doctors provided better care with the organizational tools of an EMR (and I quibble with the use of the word "improvement," since it's not comparing same practices before and after implementation).

Jeff [10:11 AM]

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