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Meaningful Use Does Not Indicate Higher Quality of Care, Study Finds

April 14, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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A new report on physicians indicates that those who were meaningful users of electronic health records (EHRs) did not consistently score higher on quality of care measures than those who non meaningful users. 

Researchers at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston evaluated 858 physicians who either work there or at an affiliated ambulatory practice. Of those physicians, 63 percent were Stage 1 meaningful users of EHRs. They looked at seven quality measures for five chronic diseases and found that Stage 1 meaningful users had higher quality scores than non meaningful users for two measures, worse quality scores for two other measures, and there was no discernible difference for the last three measures. 
"The fact that we found no consistent benefit in quality for Stage 1 supports the implementation of more stringent criteria in MU Stages 2 and 3. Throughout implementation, MU should be monitored to ensure the large investment in effort, time, and money translates into improved quality for patients," the authors write in the study. The evaluation was physicians who used the EHR from September 2012 to November of that year. 
Overall, meaningful users had better control of cholesterol in patients with diabetes and better control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension. However, they had worse treatment of asthma and depression. The authors note however that other studies have found that there is no consistent association with quality for given chronic conditions between meaningful users and non users. 
The findings of the study were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 

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