EMRs don't guarantee quality

An occasional snapshot of current facts and trends in medicine.

Quick View. Posted July 9, 2007

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Electronic medical record systems are not quite the panacea some have hoped for, a new study suggests.

Measure EMR practices Non-EMR practices
Processes of care
(3 of 5 guidelines met)
35.0% 53.8%
(all guidelines met)
35.3% 48.6%
Outcome targets
(2 of 3 guidelines met)
29.0% 43.7%
Outcome targets
(all guidelines met)
3.9% 10.7%

Researchers audited chart samples from 50 family physician practices -- 13 with EMRs and 37 without -- and examined how well they met quality standards in diabetes care. For example, they gauged whether the practices assessed hemoglobin A1c each six months (a process measure) or reduced patients' blood pressure below 130/85 mmHg (an outcome target). The authors said it was unclear why practices using an EMR did worse, though they noted that neither group excelled in diabetes care. They speculated that EMR practices had not yet fully integrated the technology into their patient care workflow.

Source: "Electronic Medical Records and Diabetes Quality of Care: Results From a Sample of Family Medicine Practices," Annals of Family Medicine, May/June

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