Electronic health records (EHR) are currently being used by health practitioners and health informatics experts to record and review relevant information which may assist them in providing improved quality of healthcare. However, a current health informatics research done in Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston concluded that there is no significant difference between the quality of care provided by meaningful EHR users compared to non-meaningful practitioners. The study was recently published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
A total of 858 physicians were included in the study. These practitioners are working either in the said hospital or currently have their private practice but are still affiliated with Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Sixty three percent of these providers are Stage 1 meaningful EHR users. Seven quality measures for five chronic diseases were used for evaluation. The health informatics researchers found that although Stage 1 meaningful users scored higher in two measures, they had lower quality scores for another two. For the last three measures, no significant difference between the two groups was noted. This evaluation was done for physicians who practiced using the EHR from September to November of 2012.
Although the meaningful users were noted to have better management of chronic diseases such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and diabetes, they were evaluated to render lower quality of care to asthmatic patients, as well as to those who are diagnosed with depression. In contrast to this, other studies have concluded that there is no significant correlation between the qualities of healthcare given by meaningful users as compare to non-meaningful physicians with regard to chronic diseases.
Based on the findings of the study that there is no significant advantage noted with regard to the quality of care given by Stage 1 EHR users, the authors suggested that additional criteria might need to be added in MU Stages 2 and 3. It was pointed out that continuous monitoring of MU should be implemented to assure the improved quality of healthcare for patients. This is to guarantee that the practice would be able to justify the “large investment in effort, time, and money.”