The use of electronic health records supports efforts to improve patient care within integrated healthcare delivery systems, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
GAO: EHRs promote better care
The GAO report (PDF) details the strategies that 15 public and private integrated delivery systems serving medically underserved populations have employed to provide better-coordinated and higher-quality care. In interviews with GAO researchers, officials from the surveyed ID systems said that EHRs serve to boost care quality by improving communication among physicians, staff members and patients and by increasing the availability of clinical information and patient population data.
One Mayo Clinic official stated that EHRs help reduce overutilization and duplication of services at Mayo Clinic facilities because physicians can see a patient's clinical information no matter where in the system he or she is receiving care, according to the report. Interviewees from other ID systems said that EHRs have helped promote disease management by allowing doctors to adjust recommended treatments based on individual patient and population-wide data. For example, New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.'s diabetic disease registry lets doctors with similar groups of patients compare clinical outcomes, according to the report.
In part because the systems surveyed serve patients in rural areas and those who face any of a host of barriers—economic, geographic, cultural and/or linguistic—to receiving healthcare, significant financial and operational challenges obstacles remain in maximizing the use of IT to improve care quality, the report noted. EHR interoperability issues and the evolution of managers' and physicians' roles when implementing health IT systems also pose challenges, according to the GAO. A copy of the GAO's report was sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
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