Primary care practices using electronic medical records (EMRs) identify patients who need preventative or follow-up care 30 times faster than practices using paper, according to a recent study.
The study was commissioned by Canada Health Infoway, a not-for-profit organization funded by the Canadian government, and conducted by researchers at St. Mary's Research Centre, MedbASE Research and McGill University.
Essentially, practices were asked to identify their patients who qualified for six interventions - immunization, follow-up care after a heart attack, cancer screening, diabetes management and two medication recalls - by reviewing charts, then report how long it took to do so. Those practices that did not complete the chart review by a cut-off time, recorded the percentage of charts they had reviewed.
Practices using EMRs reviewed the records of all their active patients in an average of 1.4 hours. Paper-based practices, meanwhile, reviewed 10 percent of all active charts in 3.9 hours - meaning they would need 40 hours to conduct a full practice review.
Practices using EMRs were also more confident in their ability to contact patients regarding follow-up care or intervention. On a scale of one to five, with five being very confident and one being not confident, practices using EMRs chose 3.8 vs.1.9 for paper-based practices.
Richard Alvarez, president and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, said, “These results demonstrate the value of EMRs in enabling clinicians to deliver high-quality patient care in a timely fashion.”