Study on the Impact of Transitioning to Electronic Health Records in Pediatrics Appears in Latest Psychiatric Services

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In a recent study of a large pediatric practice, Dr. Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, Executive Director of ICH, Dr. Robert Penfield of the University of Washington, and Dr. Fang Zhang and Dr. Stephen Soumerai of the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School, found that behavioral health screening rates dropped significantly during the transition from paper records to an electronic medical record (EMR) system. Subsequently, it took over three years for screening rates to once again approach pre-EMR rates. Hacker and colleagues found that screening rates began to decrease as the practice prepared for EMR adoption, and then began to increase again post-adoption. Reasons for the disruption included physician adjustment to the EMR as well as practice process changes.These findings are particularly compelling considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s call for electronic health records for all Americans by the year 2014 and the demands of meaning full use requirements. They suggest that EMR implementation may have an unintended effect on quality of care and that systems should be aware of and plan for transitional challenges. For more information, click here for the article abstract!