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EHRs need time to prove worth

Shared by Radhika Narayanan | 0 0 0 | about 4 months ago

New research published in Health Affairs suggests that use of electronic health records (EHRs) can help improve quality of care after all. During the six-year study period (2008-2013), researchers found that mortality rates were initially higher among hospitals with more digital capabilities, but fell over time, as hospitals learned how to work with the technology and adopted new capabilities. A common viewpoint is that EHRs are not improving clinical care, with many doctors complaining EHR documentation increases their administrative burden. However, as the researchers note, their findings underscore the importance of allowing time for technology to prove its worth. “In other industries, widespread digitisation took a decade to realise improvements,” said senior author Julia Adler-Millstein, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, University of California – San Francisco, and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “It’s a major transformation of the healthcare system to go from paper to digital. We are seeing those rewards, but it has taken time and work.”In the study, smaller and non-teaching hospitals gained more benefits from digitisation. The researchers hypothesised this was because the larger and teaching hospitals had ongoing efforts to improve hospital quality, and therefore had less room to improve with the adoption of health records. In contrast, for smaller and non-teaching hospitals, EHR adoption may have represented a large, highly visible quality improvement initiative that also prompted broader quality efforts.

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