One of the goals of meaningful use and all the related federal spending of health IT is for EMRs to improve care coordination. But the current reimbursement system that's heavy on fee-for-service encourages software developers and users alike to focus on documentation of billable events rather than coordination of care, a new study finds.
"There's a real disconnect between policymakers' expectations that current commercial electronic medical records can improve care coordination and physicians' experiences with EMRs," says Dr. Ann S. O'Malley, MD, senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Studying Health System Change and a co-author of the study. The study, which was supported by the Commonwealth Fund, appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
According to the researchers, EMRs generally are successful in making information available and successful at the point of care, but are not so good at exchanging information between care settings--a key component of meaningful use. Current EMRs may unintentionally create information overload that makes it difficult for physicians and other providers to find relevant clinical information. Systems also tend to emphasize documentation at a particular point in time rather than in a dynamic and ongoing format that care coordination requires.