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Report: EHRs Have Mixed Benefits, More Studies Needed

Photo: case-connect.com, medicalexchange.com

A lot of buzz surrounds electronic health records. Many think the adoption of EHRs and other health IT solutions will revolutionize the healthcare system. Adoption of EHRs, which is the cause celebre of National Health IT Coordinator David Blumenthal, is mandated by the healthcare reform bill passed in the spring, and providers are offered incentives to make the digital switch.

But a new report reveals that the benefits of EHRs are still largely unknown and might be more complicated than proponents suggest, Nextgov reports.

Studies completed thus far about the impact of EHRs in the healthcare workplace have been “anecdotal, insufficiently supported or otherwise deficient in terms of scientific rigor,” according to the report by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

According to the report, often a computer in the examining room is distracting and can increase the workload.

Other findings, according to Nextgov:

  • Tasks such as data entry took longer with EHRs and records that were part paper and part digital.
  • Workload increased because providers often have to key in information on different computer workstations.

However, the report did identify some beneficial characteristics.

  • Physicians using EHRs can access clinic information remotely, which saved time and gave them time to prepare for an appointment.
  • Also, most providers believe the benefits of HER outweigh the costs and impediments.

But, the report finds, the results do indicate EHRs are less of a panacea than once thought.

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