Study: EHR Access Could Influence ED Care

Knowledge is power. The statement holds true in the emergency department, as a new study has found that physician access to information in EHRs may have a significant impact on patient care. In addition, failure to access such information also could adversely affect medical treatment.

The findings are the result of a study conducted by researchers and professors from the Medical College of Wisconsin. The study, titled "In Emergency Departments, Radiologists' Access to EHRs May Influence Interpretations and Medical Management," was published in the May 2014 edition of Health Affairs.

The researchers analyzed 2,000 consecutive head computed tomography exams ordered by emergency department physicians at Froedtert Hospital & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. They compared medical information generated by the ED physicians to data generated by interpreting radiologists who also had access to information from the patients' EHR. 

In 22% of the cases, the additional clinical information from the EHR was found to possibly have a clinically significant impact on the interpretation of the head CT result. Further, in 6.1% of the cases, researchers found that the additional data was very likely to influence radiological interpretations and that the lack of that data would have adversely affected medical management in those patients.

"This study exemplifies the power of EHRs and their potential impact on patient care and positive outcomes," said John L. Ulmer, M.D., professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Ulmer was the corresponding author of the study. "Health care providers must recognize the value of implementing EHRs and foster their widespread adoption."