Hospital readmission rates are lower among psychiatric patients who have their mental health histories included in their electronic health records, according to a small study published online the International Journal of Medical Informatics, FierceEMR reports.
For the study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University surveyed psychiatric departments at 18 hospitals deemed the best in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report's 2007 Best Hospitals list.
Less than half of the facilities included inpatient psychiatric records in patients' EHRs and less than one-quarter of hospitals allowed non-psychiatrist physicians to have full electronic access to patients' psychiatric records (Bowman, FierceEMR, 1/2).
The study found that psychiatric patients were 40% less likely to be readmitted to a hospital within the first month after discharge when hospitals provide non-psychiatrists with full electronic access to patients' psychiatric records (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 1/2).
According to the study, the hospitals that provided such access to non-psychiatrists had lower psychiatric patient readmission rates at seven, 14 and 30 days after discharge.
However, providing non-psychiatrists with full electronic access to patients' mental health records did not affect patients' average length of stay, the study found (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 1/2).
Comments on Study
Adam Kaplin -- lead author of the study and an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine -- said that "there are unintended consequences of trying to protect the medical records of psychiatric patients," Kaplin said.
Kaplin added, "In fact, we're hurting our patients by not giving their medical doctors the full picture of their health" (Healthcare IT News, 1/2).