Electronic patient records evaluated

Rhode Island researchers have studied the introduction of electronic health records into a family medicine centre. They investigated how staff and patients adapted to the change.

The study lasted 23 months. In the first five months, the doctors were using paper records, and then there was a transition phase of 10 months, after which only electronic records were used.

Before electronic health records were introduced, the doctors often had to interrupt consultations to look for test results. The clerical staff thought there would be fewer missing notes with electronic records.

During the transition phase the practice nurses became enthusiastic about saving time with electronic records. The patients’ concern was about the security of their records.

The presence of a computer changed the way the doctors acted in the consultation. They were more likely to show their patients information on the computer screen than in the paper notes.