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Depression treatment may be lacking for patients of EHR users

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 3, 2012

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Physicians using electronic health records were about half as likely as physicians using paper-based records to provide appropriate depression treatment to patients with three or more chronic conditions.

University of Florida researchers analyzed 3,467 visits in which an adult patient had a diagnosis of depression. They noted whether the patient was prescribed an antidepressant, received mental health counseling or a got a combination of the two. For patients with one or two chronic conditions, the recommended treatment for depression was not different for patients of EHR users and paper-based physicians. But for patients with three or more chronic conditions, patients of EHR users were about half as likely to receive appropriate depression care as those whose physicians use paper charts.

The authors of the study suggested that EHR systems may be programmed to focus more on physical health issues than mental health issues. They said physicians with EHRs may spend more time entering data and that the EHR system interfered with the verbal communication between physicians and patients.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/09/03/bibf0903.htm.

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