Healthcare institutions and providers utilizing EHR or Electronic Health Records, that are equipped with Clinical Decision Support (CDS) technologies are capable of providing enhanced blood pressure control and improved comprehensive cancer screenings for healthcare consumers or patients, when compared to those that do not use Clinical Decision Support functionalities. The American Journal of Managed Care reported in a recent study.
According to the researchers’ team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the necessary requirements for Meaningful Use have been set in practice already. “Although the Meaningful Use requirements have already been established, the evidence is inconsistent regarding improvement in healthcare processes or patient outcomes as a result of the implementation of general and individual EHR components,” they said. The team of researchers further added in their report that “Prior studies have shown that EHR-based CDS is associated with improved prescribing safety, preventive care measures, and diabetes testing and control. CDS has also been associated with some improvements in quality indicators, but results have been variable. Despite having EHR, many physicians report being unable to complete basic panel management activities, which affects their ability to deliver high-quality care for patients with chronic conditions.”
Making use of the information from the 2006-2009 National Ambulatory and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys, the team of researchers analyzed primary or initial care visits at three major kinds of Electronic Health Records enabled practices with Clinical Decision Support software meeting the first stage of Meaningful Use requirements.
Those practices that completely enabled CDS and were fully functional were compared with those missing some of the functionalities; and the researchers found some significant and real differences in care. Completely CDS enabled providers had much better blood pressure control (86%), when compared to those lacking some of the key features (82%).
Health care institutions and practices having CDS features that notified them of acceptable lab results seem to be more likely to conduct cancer screenings. The results show 16% for CDS enabled practices as opposed to 11% for those having some features missing. Moreover, the overall Meaningful Use standards with Clinical Decision Support included shows significant positive effect on some national quality of care indicators and health outcomes.
The evolving impact of the Meaningful Use is something only time can answer when the stages continue to be more widely implemented and seamlessly incorporated in the care processes.