Use of electronic health records is associated with enhanced patient care overall, according to a study published in Health Services Research.

Jennifer King, Ph.D., from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to examine the correlation between EHR use and enhanced patient care overall and with respect to nine specific clinical benefits. Data were obtained from the 2011 Physician Workflow study, representative of U.S. office-based physicians.

The researchers found that 78 percent of physicians with EHRs reported that EHR use enhanced patient care overall.

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Specific benefits included helping physicians access a patient’s chart remotely (81 percent) and alerting them to potential medication errors and critical lab values (65 and 62 percent, respectively). EHR use correlated with clinical benefits for 30 to 50 percent of physicians, with benefits relating to providing recommended care, appropriate test ordering, and facilitating patient communication.

Reported benefits were independently associated with use of EHRs that met Meaningful Use criteria and having two or more years of EHR experience. Physicians who were most likely to report benefits across all 10 measures were those with EHR meeting Meaningful Use criteria and longer EHR experience.

“Physicians reported EHR use enhanced patient care overall,” the authors write. “Clinical benefits were most likely to be reported by physicians using EHRs meeting Meaningful Use criteria and [with] longer EHR experience.”