Study: EHRs Do Not Guarantee Better Care for Chronic Illnesses

The use of electronic health record systems do not guarantee higher quality of care for diabetes patients or others with chronic conditions, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, HealthDay/Forbes reports.

Jesse Crosson of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the study's author, said, "The technology itself won't enhance the process, but rather, the people in the practice working on ways to improve quality have to ask 'How can they use this tool?'"

The study collected data on the care of 927 patients with diabetes in 50 physician offices to measure the impact of EHRs on the quality of care. The researchers found that the 37 offices that did not use EHRs were more likely to abide by treatment and intermediate outcomes guidelines than the 13 offices using EHRs.

"I think it's more true for chronic illness care than for other conditions handled in primary care," Crosson said of the findings, adding that studies have shown EHRs can be effective when used jointly with other tools for improving care quality.

John Hsu, a physician scientist at Kaiser Permanente, said many physician offices have rudimentary EHR systems that can only handle limited amounts of information. "Just having [EHRs] is simply not enough," he said (HealthDay/Forbes, 6/7).

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