The jury is still out on whether electronic medical records directly improve quality in healthcare facilities, although EMRs might help lead to shorter patient stays, according to research presented at the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
In a partnership with HIMSS Analytics, the purchasing network Premier, Charlotte, N.C., studied the correlation between quality and efficiency metrics and EMR adoption rates in hospitals. Premier used 179 hospitals from the more than 4,000 systems involved in HIMSS Analytics' EMR Adoption Model program. The model breaks down EMRs into eight stages of development and tracks where hospitals fall in the stages. Hospitals receive an EMR "score" and can compare their scores with other facilities.
Premier's metricsthe quality index, a risk-adjusted look at morbidity, mortality and complication measures; and the efficiency index, a risk-adjusted length-of-stay measurewere compared against the EMR score based on data collected over 12 months, said Eugene Kroch, vice president and chief scientist of Premier.
The results indicated a slightly stronger correlation between efficiency and EMR usehospitals with greater EMR scores also had patients who spend fewer days therebut neither index produced significantly meaningful data, Kroch said.
Overall, larger facilities also saw a greater impact by EMR use than smaller facilities did because their EMRs could facilitate care-delivery data across the entire continuum of care and across business units, according to the research.
The results are "murky," but show it's still too early to draw firm conclusions between EMR use and quality, said Kroch, who recommends more research.
Roger Park, reserach manager for HIMSS Analytics, said the EMR adoption model will be modified to collect 2008 data, which will affect scores in about six months.