EMRs found to improve care quality in countries with limited resources

A new comparative study in Sub‑Saharan Africa using computer‑generated clinical reminders--within electronic medical records (EMRs)--found significantly improved clinician adherence to blood testing guidelines used for monitoring patients with HIV.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and the schools of medicine at Indiana University and Moi University in Kenya, is one of the first ever to examine and demonstrate the impact of EMRs on quality of medical care in a developing country. The comparative study used clinical summaries with computer‑generated reminders.

In the study appearing in the March Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Martin Chieng Were, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute investigator, and colleagues found that computer-generated reminders used in clinics in Eldoret, Kenya yielded nearly a 50 percent increase in the appropriate ordering of the CD4 blood tests.

"We need to improve quality of care in the developing world at a time when funding for HIV and other diseases is stagnating or decreasing--which means we will have to do it with fewer personnel as the number of patients increases," Were said.

Also, this work is particularly significant, the researchers said, because many medical errors occur in settings where too few skilled health‑care providers deal with a large patient population with critical illnesses. The clinics in the study used OpenMRS, an open source electronic medical record system widely used in the developing world.

 For more details:
- see the CMIO article  
- see the Journal abstract

Future medical innovation may flourish offshore