Hospitals that have higher levels of EHR adoption and health IT use are more likely to produce better quality care with lower mortality rates, says a new report from HIMSS Analytics. Organizations that scored higher on the HIMSS EMRAM adoption scale were better able to predict complications and patient mortality while preventing deaths from certain conditions. As the healthcare industry slowly rises to the challenge of Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs, the study may provide heartening evidence that EHR adoption can indeed produce meaningful returns.
The study examined data from 4,538 hospitals spanning the period from 2010 to 2012, correlating EMRAM scores with Healthgrades quality data. The researchers chose nineteen categories with which to evaluate predicted mortality rates, actual mortality rates, and a z-score to measure overall improvement on the measures. The cohorts ranged from stroke and pneumonia care to gastrointestinal surgeries, sepsis, respiratory failure, and diabetic emergency care.
They found that higher EMRAM scores were correlated with improvement in thirteen out of the nineteen categories and no difference in the remaining six. “While the findings are what we would have expected, they’re definitely encouraging to those having invested so much in an EMR and now weathering criticisms,” said Lorren Pettit, HIMSS Analytics Vice President of Market Research. “Given the robustness of the data sets used to conduct this analysis, it’s my hope that we’ve set a standard by which other attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of the EMR will be measured against.”
“The findings of this seminal study are highly encouraging to those seeking evidence supportive of the clinical benefits of the EMR,” the study adds. “Improvements in the predicted mortality rate indicate that hospitals with advanced EMR capabilities are able to capture more information about the patient. This improved data capture involving the patient’s co-morbidities and other risks allow clinicians to better manage patients seen in the hospital, resulting in more positive predicted clinical outcomes.”
Larger academic medical centers in urban areas are more likely to boast higher EMRAM scores, the report says, but HIMSS is quick to point out that the results don’t point to a causal relationship. More research will be conducted in order to further explore the phenomenon, but for patients, the impact may be immediate. “These results are vital to the health of millions of Americans,” said Evan Marks, Chief Strategy Officer for Healthgrades. “When selecting hospitals, patients should know how beneficial EMR technology can be to their health outcomes.”