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Improved Diagnostics & Patient Outcomes

When health care providers have access to complete and accurate information, patients receive better medical care. Electronic health records (EHRs) can improve the ability to diagnose diseases and reduce—even prevent—medical errors, improving patient outcomes.A national survey of doctors who are ready for meaningful use offers important evidence:94% of providers report that their EHR makes records readily available at point of care.88% report that their EHR produces clinical benefits for the practice.75% of providers report that their EHR allows them to deliver better patient care.

EHRs can aid in diagnosis

With EHRs, providers can have reliable access to a patient’s complete health information. This comprehensive picture can help providers diagnose patients’ problems sooner.


EHRs can reduce errors, improve patient safety, and support better patient outcomes

How? EHRs don’t just contain or transmit information; they “compute” it. That means that EHRs manipulate the information in ways that make a difference for patients. For example:

  1. A qualified EHR not only keeps a record of a patient’s medications or allergies, it also automatically checks for problems whenever a new medication is prescribed and alerts the clinician to potential conflicts.
  2. Information gathered by a primary care provider and recorded in an EHR tells a clinician in the emergency department about a patient’s life-threatening allergy, and emergency staff can adjust care appropriately, even if the patient is unconscious.
  3. EHRs can expose potential safety problems when they occur, helping providers avoid more serious consequences for patients and leading to better patient outcomes.
  4. EHRs can help providers quickly and systematically identify and correct operational problems. In a paper-based setting, identifying such problems is much more difficult, and correcting them can take years.
Risk Management and Liability Prevention: Study Findings

EHRs May Improve Risk Management By:

Providing clinical alerts and reminders
Improving aggregation, analysis, and communication of patient information
Making it easier to consider all aspects of a patient’s condition
Supporting diagnostic and therapeutic decision making
Gathering all relevant information (lab results, etc.) in one place
Support for therapeutic decisions
Enabling evidence-based decisions at the point of care
Preventing adverse events
Providing built-in safeguards against prescribing treatments that would result in adverse events
Enhancing research and monitoring for improvements in clinical quality


Certified EHRs May Help Providers Prevent Liability Actions By:

Demonstrating adherence to the best evidence-based practices
Producing complete, legible records readily available for the defense (reconstructing what actually happened during the point of care)
Disclosing evidence that suggests informed consent

EHRs can improve public health outcomes

EHRs can also have beneficial effects on the health of groups of patients.

Providers who have electronic health information about the entire population of patients they serve can look more meaningfully at the needs of patients who:

Suffer from a specific condition
Are eligible for specific preventive measures
Are currently taking specific medications

This EHR function helps providers identify and work with patients to manage specific risk factors or combinations of risk factors to improve patient outcomes.

For example, providers might wish to identify:

How many patients with hypertension have their blood pressure under control
How many patients with diabetes have their blood sugar measurements in the target range and have had appropriate screening tests

This EHR function also can detect patterns of potentially related adverse events and enable at-risk patients to be notified quickly.

Studies Show: Better Patient Outcomes With EHRs


Using EHR Prompts & Reminders to Improve Quality of Patient Care 

High Patient Satisfaction

92% were happy their doctor used e-prescribing.
90% reported rarely or only occasionally going to the pharmacy and having prescription not ready.
76% reported it made obtaining medications easier.
63% reported fewer medication errors.

High Provider Satisfaction

Reduced overall rate of after-hours clinic calls.

Using EHRs to Improve Quality of Care 

Improved Quality of Care Screenings

Breast Cancer
Colorectal Cancer

Increase in Services

Blood pressure control for patients with hypertension
Breast cancer screenings
Recording of body mass index and blood testing for patients with diabetes

Using EHR Decision Support to Improve Asthma Care and Compliance 

The Study

Cluster randomization of clinics
Intervention: Clinical decision support (CDC clinical decision support) embedded in EHR


6% greater use of controller medications (preventive or maintenance medications to help prevent asthma symptoms from occurring)
3% greater use of spirometry (a common office test used to diagnose asthma and other conditions that affect breathing)
14% greater use of asthma care plan
Spirometry improved by 6% in suburban practices


EHRs Transforming the Clinical Process 

A community hospital in Vermont recently implemented an EHR and reported:

60% decrease in near-miss medication events
20% increase in completion of daily fall assessment helping to avoid prolonged hospital stays
25% drop in the number of patient charts needing to be pulled for signing orders and dictated reports

Using EHRs to Improve Documentation and Coding 

Based on the level of medical decision-making, ~50% of visits under-coded
Rural family practice implementing EHR + Practice Management (EPM) system
Increased case mix (type or a mix of patients treated by a hospital or unit) by 10% over 2 years from 1.34 to 1.47
EHR documentation templates in a multi-specialty clinic
Increased use of ICD code 99214 by 11%
An average billable gain of $26/patient
Increased revenue by >100K during the study period