Electronic Medical Records vs Paper: Surprising Results

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In a recent primary care “Practice Challenge” researchers from St. Mary’s Research Centre, MedbASE Research and McGill University challenged participating clinics to review their patients’ records to identify those who would benefit from six different types of evidence-based interventions.

The basis for the Practice Challenge study is an approach to primary care called practice-based population health management. Essentially, it uses information to help improve care and clinical outcomes across the patients in a given practice.

Surprising Results

The results of the challenge were very interesting, especially if you are an organization considering the move to electronic records. The study found that primary care practices with electronic medical records (EMRs) identified patients who need preventative or follow-up care approximately 30 times more quickly than paper-based clinics.

Practices using EMRs for health records management reviewed the records of all their active patients in an average of 1.4 hours. Paper-based practices of approximately the same size reviewed 10 per cent of all active charts in 3.9 hours, which means that they would have needed an estimated 40 hours to conduct a full practice review.

Practices with EMRs were also more confident in their ability to contact all the right patients to receive the appropriate treatment or intervention in a timely manner. On a scale of one to five, where 5 is very confident and 1 is not confident, EMR-based practices were more confident in their reviews than paper-based practices (average score of 3.8 vs. 1.9).

You can read the full article here.

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