Study links electronic health records to improved care

Screening for diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases was better.

A new study directly links use of electronic health records to improved quality of care, at least when it comes to ordering four common screening tests.

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found the use of EHRs improved the rate of screening for diabetes, breast cancer, chlamydia and colorectal cancer by anywhere from 3 to 13 percentage points. A composite score associated EHR use with overall higher quality of care, the researchers found.

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital examined data for 466 general internists, pediatricians and family medicine physicians belonging to the Taconic Independent Practice Association in New York’s Hudson Valley.

The study, “Electronic Health Records and Ambulatory Quality of Care,” compared care provided by 204 physicians who had adopted EHRs and 262 using paper records. Researchers examined decisions made in caring for 74,618 patients in 2008.

“The findings confirm that the significant investment in EHRs by both the federal government and the physicians who use them will result in better care,” concluded the Hudson Valley Initiative, a regional advocate for better health care, in a news release.