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Study: Mammograms Increase With EHR Use

February 20, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging, Musculoskeletal Radiology, Practice Management
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Physicians with electronic health records systems order more mammograms, bone mineral density tests, and other screening exams for women than those without. The more sophisticated the EHR system is, the more tests are ordered.

Those are among the conclusions of a study published in the March issue of Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Namita L. Tundia, a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati, led the research and is lead author of the JAMIA article. She told DOTmed News:

I thought it would be interesting to see if EHR sophistication improves patient care.

Apparently, it does—if you accept the study’s assumption that more tests equal improved care.

The study mined National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data from 2007 and 2008. Based on that data, it classified providers’ EHR systems as nonexistent, minimal, basic, or fully functional. And it correlated that information with the ordering or provision of breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams, Pap tests, chlamydia tests, cholesterol tests, blood pressure tests, bone mineral density tests, flu vaccinations, education about nutrition and diet, and education on exercise.

Having any kind of EHR was associated with increased rates of tests. “For all women’s health measures, except for chlamydia testing and the seasonal flu vaccination, providers with no EHR systems had the lowest rates,” the study says.

For example, 10.5 percent of women 40 or older whose health care providers had no EHR were given or referred for a mammogram. The percentages when providers had minimal, basic, or fully functional EHR systems were 23.2 percent, 15.2 percent, and 29.4 percent, respectively. The corresponding percentages for other kinds of breast exams were 20.27, 34.96, 37.21, and 44.98.

The study noted that obstetrics-gynecology and primary care providers—the ones most directly linked to women’s preventive care—were the least likely to have EHR systems. It also acknowledged that EHR adoption rates have gone up considerably since 2007 and 2008. At that time, 29.23 percent of the providers it studied had no EHR systems and only 5.46 percent had fully functional systems.

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One prominent critic says: not so fast on EHR. To learn why he says “we know it causes harm,” see our Facebook page.

Related seminar: New Horizons in Breast Imaging

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