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EHRs Beat Paper in Head-to-Head Competition

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, September 6, 2011

For decades this has always been the hope—that eventually technology will transform healthcare as it has other industries. We’ve poured in billions and billions of dollars. But to date the real value seen from that investment has been minimal. This is one of the studies that really shows that the value of that investment is significant. So I think there will be many more examples of this in the future.”

Other healthcare systems can replicate the study results, Cebul says. But “to replicate this study in a faithful way would require that you do it in an environment within which practices agree they’re going to improve the care and outcomes of people with specified conditions and specified metrics.”

The results of this research are just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to proving the potential for EHRs, Kaelber said. “The reality is that even though it’s a great study, we’re only looking at diabetes and several outcomes. The future of this is that we should be seeing more and more studies like this and outcomes like this, where the electronic health records really are transforming the way that healthcare is delivered.”

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2 comments on "EHRs Beat Paper in Head-to-Head Competition"


A Davis (9/14/2011 at 1:06 PM)
While the paper does demonstrate mild improvements in patient outcomes, it raises as many questions as it answers. Quality ultimately relates to outcomes, but there is a strong argument that it also relates to costs. If the EMR has caused treatments and, presumably their related costs, to increase by 41%, but have improved outcomes by only 4%, there is a strong suggestion that EMRs are, in fact, detrimental to quality, and this analysis ignores the additional cost of the purchase, implementation and use of the EMR itself, as well as the opportunity costs of taking on what is likely the biggest single budget expansion, for IT implementation, in any given hospital.. I expect that we will see additional articles in the future demonstrating improvements in outcomes associated with EMR use, but I question whether these improvements are affordable in the current context of constraining costs. Given that the outcomes improvements are only slightly better than marginal, in the economic sense, it seems that a sense of caution may be in order.

laura stenger (9/13/2011 at 10:22 AM)
The study on electronic record keeping is very impressive. It is imperative that the patient's health information is not shared to the detriment of the individual patient-insurance denied because of "conditions" by insurance carriers (I am aware that the "new health care bill-law" is supposed to prevent this but the health care legislation will be shaped according to the wants of insurance companies, and providers to bring in more money?because of after the fact lobbing.