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GAO Report: Electronic Health Records Improve Care

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The Government Accountability Office has put its stamp of approval on claims that electronic health records can actually improve the quality of healthcare.

The GAO report studied integrated delivery systems that have implemented the use of electronic medical records.

Those systems studied said that using EHRs increased the availability of information about patients as well as patient population data. EHRs also served to increase communication and coordination among healthcare providers.

However, those surveyed noted at least one snag in the process. Some healthcare providers said it was sometimes difficult to share clinical information found in a patient’s EHR with providers outside their system.

The report touts EHRs as an antidote to increasingly fragmented healthcare services.

“Health care delivery in the United States has long been characterized by fragmentation at the national, state and local levels,” the report found. “Care is delivered by multiple providers, in multiple care settings, and often without systematic coordination and communication across providers and settings.”

Implementation of EHR was a cornerstone of the healthcare overhaul bill passed by Congress earlier this year. But despite the buzz surrounding electronic medical records, some critics believe EHRs need to be studied more before their benefits are touted.

A recent report by the University of Wisconsin said studies done so far have been “anecdotal, insufficiently supported or otherwise deficient in terms of scientific rigor.”

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