Electronic health records can reduce the hectic pace of physician practices and the resulting patient safety problems, but not in a vacuum, according to a recent article in American Medical News.
The article, reporting on the results of a recent study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), noted that EHRs are a "critical first step" in improving safety, but only if practices make the most of their EHR systems and utilize standardized procedures, according to David L. Bronson, M.D., president of the American College of Physicians and president of Cleveland Clinic Regional Hospitals.
"Going electronic is a tool, but you have to implement it appropriately," Bronson said.
For instance, the AHRQ survey noted that 52 percent of respondents said that they had fully implemented electronic prescribing, and 93 percent said that they had been contacted by a pharmacy within the past year to clarify a prescription order. Presumably, the number of necessary clarifications would be reduced if more physicians were e-prescribing.
Other quality and safety problems noted by AHRQ included delayed appointments, misfiled patient information, unavailable medical records and outdated medication lists.
Read the full article here.