EHRs and evidence-based medicine can lead to better patient outcomes

By Aine Cryts

As more hospitals and health systems acquire independent physician practices, there's a real opportunity to leverage the electronic health record (EHR) and evidence-based medicine to improve outcomes for patients, according to a recent commentary on Medscape by Cheryl Pegus, M.D., director of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation at New York University Langone Medical Center.

Increasingly, patients receive care in both inpatient and outpatient settings--all the more reason having access to a single patient record within the EHR is so important, she writes. That's because the EHR presents to the care team a single view of the patient from both a specialist and primary care point of view. The EHR can bring together hospitalists, who spend most of their time taking care of patients when they are in the hospital, and primary care physicians who see those patients after discharge.

"This allows beginning an easy communication between physicians, even if they've met only once or twice, allowing for easier diagnosis, easier treatment protocols and transitions into the community," writes Pegus.

Alerts within the EHR based on evidence-based guidelines can help clinicians provide the appropriate level of care, according to the commentary. Case in point: Alerts that remind providers to check diabetic patients' feet and eyes on a regular basis are valuable--in addition to their A1c levels.

Still, it's important to integrate the EHR into the patient visit by introducing the computer to patients as part of the visit and explain why the computer is being used, as previously reported by FiercePracticeManagement. Positioning the screen so that physicians and patients can see it at the same time helps, as does having physicians look up from the computer at regular intervals to maintain eye contact with patients.

To learn more:
- read the commentary