Study links prescriping errors to EMR adoption

While the transition to electronic medical records software can be navigated efficiently with the right help – such as hiring an outside consulting firm or ensuring even work distribution – research shows that facilities that attempt to upgrade these systems may not take the same precautions the second time around. As a result, when upgrading these essential operational tools, some facilities could be making errors that are potentially compromising patient care.

According to a December report from MedPage Today, the study showed that doctors who upgraded their EMR software have a higher rate of prescribing errors than primary care physicians who transitioned to the software for the first time.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, found that facilities that have already made the EMR transition before were more likely to make errors at both three and 12 months after adoption. After the second year of adoption, however, there was an overall decrease in errors, according to the researchers.

Overall, the study relied on 15 different measures of quality and the results from close to 140 primary care physicians across the country, then measured these results against those of facilities that still relied on traditional pen-and-paper prescriptions.

"I thought it was a very good beginning of what needs to be done in a more extensive way, which is to study in an objective manner the impact of implementation of health technology," Alan Bernstein, of the Greater Hudson Valley Family Heath Center, told MedPage Today.

Doctors who see a need for improvement in their error rates may benefit from going through future EMR upgrades with the help of an experienced consulting firm. By looking to work with a professional organization that has tackled similar problems in the past and sells high-quality Allscripts and McKesson software, doctors and small medical facilities can ensure that the level of care they provide doesn't diminish in the short term while they work toward their long-term goals.