Electronic medical records of limited help

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. hospitals using basic electronic health records provided better care for patients with heart failure but not heart attack or pneumonia, researchers say.

Lead author Spencer S. Jones, an information scientist at the Rand Corp., a non-profit research organization, says the use of electronic health records is growing rapidly among U.S. hospitals, largely due to about $30 billion in federal aid intended for electronic health records.


One expected benefit of electronic health records is improved quality of care, but most of the research involved few hospitals that may not be representative, such as large teaching hospitals.

The Rand study involved 2,021 hospitals and examined performance across 17 measures of quality for three common illnesses -- heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia -- from 2003 to 2007.

The number of hospitals using either basic or advanced electronic health records rose sharply during the study period, from 24 percent in 2003 to nearly 38 percent in 2006.

The study, published online by the American Journal of Managed Care, found that the quality of care provided for the three illnesses generally improved among all types of hospitals studied from 2004 to 2007, but the largest increase in quality was seen among patients treated for heart failure.


Quality scores for heart attack and heart failure improved significantly less at hospitals that did not have electronic health records and there was no impact for pneumonia.

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