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Digital hospital records tied to higher efficiency

Arizona Republic, August 20, 2010
Patients treated at hospital emergency rooms that use all-digital-records systems are more likely to have shorter stays than at hospitals with paper or basic digital-records systems, according to a study by an Arizona State University professor.  The findings come at a time when several Arizona hospital systems and physicians seek to bolster their use of electronic health records while the federal government prepares to provide up to $27 billion to compel hospitals and doctors to adopt digital-records systems. The study, based on data from the 2006 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, found that people spent 22.4 percent less time and were treated 13.1 percent more quickly at hospitals with complete electronic health-records systems compared with other hospitals. It also found that hospitals with basic computerized records were less efficient than other hospitals. Emergency-room wait times at those semidigital hospitals were 47.3 percent longer for patients with an urgent or semi-urgent matter.