EHR systems have a ‘marginal’ benefit on quality, costs, study finds

Challenging “wide agreement” that adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems will curb health care spending and improve care quality, a new study measuring a broad swath of U.S. hospitals—not just the highest-performers—finds that EHRs may have little effect on outcomes, the New York Times reports.

According to the article, researchers found marginal differences in outcomes among hospitals that had advanced EHR systems and those that did not. For HF, for example, hospitals with advanced EHR systems met best-practice standards 87.8% of the time, compared with 86.7% among facilities with basic systems, and 85.9% at facilities lacking computerized systems. Additionally, length of stay (LOS) varied minimally; advanced EHR facilities had an average LOS of 5.5 days, compared with 5.7 days for hospitals with basic systems and those with no computer systems. According to the Times, many experts have said that reducing LOSs “should be a big money-saving payoff from [EHRs].”

(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, November 18, 2009; The New York Times, http://nytimes.com, accessed November 24, 2009)