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Electronic health records (EHRs) can improve patient safety, raise care quality, and reduce potentially serious medical errors, according to a statement from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for healthcare technology.
Healthcare providers that adopt the principles of meaningful use, including computerized provider order entry (CPOE) and electronic documentation, see significantly fewer patient safety events and a 52% reduction in the number of adverse drug events, the ONC reports.
The federal office conducted a physician workflow survey found that three times as many physicians reported that their EHRs prevented a medication error than caused one, with nearly 70% saying that lab alerts or medication reminders were helpful in avoiding potential patient harm. Forty-five percent said an EHR feature had alerted them to a potential medication error, while twice as many physicians said EHRs helped them pick the right lab test rather than pick the wrong one.
Fifty-one percent of physicians expressed a positive opinion on EHR alerts, with just 14% saying that they missed something important due to the overwhelming number or distraction of alarms and reminders. Forty-seven percent improved the amount of preventative care they provided due to EHR features, while 39% were more likely to meet clinical guidelines for chronic disease care when prompted by their computers.
EHRs also were associated with improved clinical communication, including easing the ordering of referrals and exchanging data with other providers.