“The initial stages of adopting and implementing EHRs can cause unintended consequences and significant disruptions in clinical workflow processes that can affect the delivery of safe patient care, including – but not limited to – communication between providers, access to patient records and test results, medication order entry, and medication administration records,” Kutney-Lee said by email.
“To avoid these potential negative effects, hospitals should ensure that adequate supports and resources are in place prior to and throughout the time of adoption or modification of an EHR system, and that contingency plans are in place for when the EHR is not working,” she added.
While the results add to evidence suggesting that there’s an adjustment period with new technology, today nearly all U.S. hospitals have adopted electronic health records, said A. Jay Holmgren, a researcher at Harvard Business School in Boston who wasn’t involved in the study.
“EHR adoption was a big shock in many ways to the practice of medicine,” Holmgren said by email. “It isn’t surprising that there was an initial learning curve for hospitals.”
With the transition now complete at most hospitals, “patients have little to worry over with regards to EHR adoption and choosing a hospital,” Holmgren said.
The study findings should reassure patients that they ultimately benefit from electronic records, said Dean Sittig, a researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Implementing EHRs is difficult and time consuming, but well worth the effort,” Sittig said by email. “Gains are made slowly but surely over time.”
- Lin SC, Jha AK, Adler-Milstein J. Electronic Health Records Associated With Lower Hospital Mortality After Systems Have Time To Mature.Health Aff (Millwood). 2018 Jul;37(7):1128-1135.