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Clinical Benefits of Electronic Health Record Use: National Findings

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Keywords:Information technology in health care;technology adoption;technology diffusion;technology use;ambulatory care

Objective: To assess whether physicians' reported electronic health record (EHR) use provides clinical benefits and whether benefits depend on using an EHR meeting Meaningful Use criteria or length of EHR experience.

Data Source: The 2011 Physician Workflow study, representative of U.S. office-based physicians.

Study Design: Cross-sectional data were used to examine the association of EHR use with enhanced patient care overall and nine specific clinical benefits.

Principal Findings: Most physicians with EHRs reported EHR use enhanced patient care overall (78 percent), helped them access a patient's chart remotely (81 percent), and alerted them to a potential medication error (65 percent) and critical lab values (62 percent). Between 30 and 50 percent of physicians reported that EHR use was associated with clinical benefits related to providing recommended care, ordering appropriate tests, and facilitating patient communication. Using EHRs that met Meaningful Use criteria and having 2 or more years of EHR experience were independently associated with reported benefits. Physicians with EHRs meeting Meaningful Use criteria and longer EHR experience were most likely to report benefits across all 10 measures.

Conclusions: Physicians reported EHR use enhanced patient care overall. Clinical benefits were most likely to be reported by physicians using EHRs meeting Meaningful Use criteria and longer EHR experience.

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