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Research Shows Effectiveness of EMR in Positively Impacting Clinical Outcomes

August 12, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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New research suggests a measurable beneficial relationship between the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) and hospital performance, as measured by mortality rates.

The findings were revealed by HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and Healthgrades, an online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. The value of EMRs has long been discussed in trade and consumer news, but until now evaluations have lacked comprehensive clinical data, according to HIMSS officials.

Using HIMSS Analytics’ Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) and mortality rate measures collected by Healthgrades across 19 unique procedure and condition based clinical cohorts, the analysis found that hospitals with advanced EMR capabilities (as reflected in high EMRAM scores) demonstrated significantly improved actual mortality rates, most notably for heart attack, respiratory failure, and small intestine surgery. Most cohorts experienced improvement in predicted mortality rates when compared to hospitals with lower EMRAM scores. The predicted mortality rate is an indicator of the level of documentation and capture of patient risk factors that are correlated to increased risk of mortality.   

“While the findings are what we would have expected, they’re definitely encouraging to those having invested so much in an EMR and now weathering criticisms,” Lorren Pettit, HIMSS Analytics Vice president of market research, said in a statement. “Given the robustness of the data sets used to conduct this analysis, it’s my hope that we’ve set a standard by which other attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of the EMR will be measured against.”

In total, 4,583 facility records were selected from the HIMSS Analytics database, representing the total number of facilities with complete data from 2010 through 2012.

This evaluation is represented as initial findings, and while it doesn’t point to a causal relationship it does indicate a difference in performance.  HIMSS Analytics says it will continue to study the relationship and conduct further analysis.

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