New study indicates EHRs substantially improve preventative care

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A new report that was published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) suggests that clinical informatics systems can significantly improve the quality of preventative care methods. The report indicates that participating healthcare facilities showed signs of improvement in eight of 10 preventative care indicators such as smoking cessation, breast cancer screening and vaccinations against influenza.

The study detailed the findings from the Primary Care Information Project (PCIP), an initiative that was led by Dr. Farzad Mostashari before he was appointed the national healthcare IT coordinator. The project linked 300 primary care practices across New York City by a medical informatics network to determine the effects of information sharing on preventative care.

Participating facilities automatically transmitted population data across the network to highlight potential preventative action that could be taken. Initial results from the project suggest that smaller practices, consisting of less than five physicians serving Medicare patients and people without health insurance, saw an increase in the delivery of preventative services of between 1 and 2.4 percent when utilizing the networked population data.

Mickey Tripathi, president of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, told Information Week that the results of the study were consistent with similar findings from other investigations into how clinical informatics systems can improve quality of care through the use of population health data.

The way in which the information was submitted through the medical informatics network was consistent with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Meaningful Use federal financial incentives.

“Meaningful Use is now a lever for that [on a national basis], and it provides a nice roadmap and framework to be able to say to physicians, ‘You won’t get these incentives unless you do things in this way,'” Tripathi told the news source. “These requirements are geared toward allowing EHRs to be effective, which can only happen if the data is structured in a way that it can be measured.”