An analysis of data on 255,402 ambulatory patient visits in non-federal treatment facilities from 2005-2007 finds use of electronic health records played an insignificant role in improving the quality of care, according to a study published in the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Stanford University assessed the relationship of EHRs and clinical decision support software to the provision of treatment guideline-based care. The study covered patient visits documented electronically and on paper. Neither use of EHRs or CDS was associated with higher quality of care.

"Among the EHR visits, only 1 of 20 quality indicators showed significantly better performance in visits with CDS compared with EHR visits without CDS," according to the study. "There were no other significant quality differences."

The findings indicate no consistent association between EHRs and CDS and better quality, researchers concluded. "These results raise concerns about the ability of health information technology to fundamentally alter outpatient care quality."

The study, "Electronic Health Records and Clinical Decision Support: Impact on National Ambulatory Care Quality," is available here.

--Joseph Goedert


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