Commercial electronic health records are falling short in some areas to improve care coordination between patients and clinicians, according to a study by the Center for Studying Health System Change published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The article, "Are electronic medical records helpful for care coordination? Experiences of physician practices," was based on a total of 60 interviews—52 physicians and other staff at 26 small and medium-size physician practices with commercial ambulatory EHRs in place for at least two years; chief medical officers at four EHR vendors; and four national thought leaders active in health information technology implementation.
The research, supported by the Commonwealth Fund, found that commercial ambulatory care EHRs do facilitate care coordination within a practice by making information available at the point of care. However, they are less helpful for exchanging information across physician practices and care settings.
"EMRs may have unintended consequences for care coordination, such as creating information overload that complicates providers' efforts to discern key clinical information. And managing information overflow from EMRs is a challenge for clinicians," the article stated.
The findings show that "improving care coordination will not happen with technology alone," said Commonwealth Fund Vice President Anne-Marie Audet in a written statement. "What is needed is a redesign of care processes and work flow; clinicians will also need to adopt new ways of working and communicating within practices and across organizations."