Ridiculous Study of the Week: EHRs Save Lives

The idea that an electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) saves lives never occurred to me.  I would think that good doctors with good nurses on a good team in a good hospital really did the trick.  But what the hell do I know?  To a few researchers, however, they found it their mission to place all the importance on the EHRs.  This is what they found:

Evidence linking electronic health record (EHR) adoption to better care is mixed. More nuanced measures of adoption, particularly those that capture the common incremental approach of adding functions over time in US hospitals, could help elucidate the relationship between adoption and outcomes. We used data for the period 2008–13 to assess the relationship between EHR adoption and thirty-day mortality rates. We found that baseline adoption was associated with a 0.11-percentage-point higher rate per function. Over time, maturation of the baseline functions was associated with a 0.09-percentage-point reduction in mortality rate per year per function. Each new function adopted in the study period was associated with a 0.21-percentage-point reduction in mortality rate per year per function. We observed effect modification based on size and teaching status, with small and nonteaching hospitals realizing greater gains. These findings suggest that national investment in hospital EHRs should yield improvements in mortality rates, but achieving them will take time.

I cannot find the full study and refuse to pay money for it.  I just don’t care enough.  I am no statistician, but it is hard to fathom that a .11% or a .09% change in mortality rate means anything.  I am also perplexed with the “new function adoption” discovery they found. What does that mean?  “Hey, Barbara, I found the a way to copy and paste!  Let’s just use that instead of adding any new information?”

Overall, this study just seems ridiculous.  It is has no depth.  No “aha” discovery.  Intuitively, EHRs can be good if they are workable and not overly complicated.  Once you mix in quality indicators, absurd layers of security, and fluffed notes for billing then they become a piece of crap.  Just my thoughts.

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