Study Finds Significant Variations in Health Care Providers’ EHR Use

June 12, 2014 in News

Health care providers — even those in the same practice — vary substantially in how they use electronic health record systems, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, FierceEMR reports.

For the study, researchers examined 430,803 visits of 99,649 patients by 112 physicians and nurse practitioners working in a network of federally qualified health care centers in New York City.

Study Findings

The study found that health care providers developed personal approaches to how they used EHR systems, making variability among providers “high.” Specifically, the study found that providers varied by:

  • How often they updated lists of patients’ problems;
  • When they would respond to clinical decision support alerts;
  • Whether the appointment was with a new patient or an established one; and
  • Their use of meaningful use objective metrics.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

The study found several reasons for the wide variation in EHR use among providers, such as:

  • A provider’s overall familiarity with an EHR system;
  • A provider’s familiarity with a patient’s medical problems; and
  • Staffing differences at the health centers, which affected workflow.

The researchers said the substantial variance among providers’ EHR use “suggests that individual level measures of usage may add value to future research on quality and cost outcomes of EHR use” (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 6/10).

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