Study: Necessity of EHR Technical Support

Study: Ongoing Technical Support Improves Patient Care for EHR Users

In a new study published by Weill Cornell Medical College, researchers found that EHR implementation can improve patient care when combined with ‘sustained high-intensity technical assistance.’

The study was published on January 7, 2013 in Health Affairs as a collaborative effort by the Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) of the New York City Health Department and Cornell’s Weill Medical College. Data from the United States’ largest community-based EHR implementation program was used in the study and was sampled from mostly small practices in the New York area. The PCIP is a NYC Health Department initiative that provided subsidized EHR software with clinical decision support and onsite technical assistance to 600 primary care practices and more than 3,300 physicians.

The results of the study suggested that the implementation of an EHR alone was not sufficient to improve overall patient care. Offices with little or no technical support actually showed no significant improvement to patient care. This finding was consistent even in practices that had been using an EHR system for up to two years.

Dr. Andrew M. Ryan, assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College and lead author of the study states, “EHRs were once thought to be a cure-all for helping improve patient care, but there are implementation issues and the technology has a steep learning curve.”

He also suggests, “Our study shows EHRs can in fact be a tool for quality improvement, but not in isolation. Technical assistance must be at the heart of the EHR implementation process. Under resourced, small physician practices, especially those taking care of underserved populations; need help to effectively use EHR technology to improve patient quality of care.”

Dr. Ryan goes on to note that the common perception in the medical field is that the adoption of an EHR will automatically improve the quality of care, but this is not necessarily true. EHRs must be installed and accompanied with proper technical support to be effective.

August 12th, 2015