Preventative medicine improved by medical informatics systems, says study

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According to a new study published by Canada Health Infoway, care facilities that implemented medical informatics technology responded to patients’ need for preventative or follow-up care 30 times faster than those using paper-based records. The findings could have implications for healthcare providers in the U.S. as the Department of Health and Human Services continues to encourage the adoption of healthcare IT initiatives.

Researchers from St. Mary’s Research Centre, MedbASE Research and McGill University asked healthcare facilities to rate how effectively they treated patients in six areas: immunization, follow-up care after a major cardiac events, oncological screening, diabetes management and two medication recalls.

The results of the report indicate that facilities using medical informatics systems were able to fully audit their patients’ records in an average of 1.4 hours, compared to the 3.9 hours needed by clinics and hospitals using paper records. The use of electronic medical records (EMRs) also enabled physicians to approach preventative and follow-up care with more confidence than doctors using paper-based records.

“These results demonstrate the value of EMRs in enabling clinicians to deliver high-quality patient care in a timely fashion,” said Richard Alvarez, president and chief executive officer of Canada Health Infoway. “The good news is that the number of family physicians using EMRs has grown significantly in recent years, improving quality of care and supporting more efficient care delivery in practices across Canada.”

In addition to providing patients with a higher quality of care, medical informatics technology may be central to effectively evaluating performance procedures in healthcare facilities.

While still in their infancy, quality performance measures based on data in electronic health records could revolutionize the way in which healthcare facilities effectively assess their internal processes, reports Information Week.

The news source reports that, according to a study published in International Journal for Quality in Health Care, while approximately half of physicians in the U.S. have implemented clinical informatics technology, less than a quarter of healthcare operating procedures are sufficiently documented in healthcare IT systems.