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    Electronic Health Records Boost Medical Office Efficiency

    Study finds EHRs improve work flow and time management without sacrificing patient trust

    TUESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- The implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) can improve medical office efficiency and time management without impairing patients' strong sense of trust in the physician-patient relationship, according to a study in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

    Renée R. Shield, Ph.D., of Brown University in Pawtucket, R.I., and colleagues conducted a 22-month study from 2005 to 2006 at the Family Care Center at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island during the gradual implementation of EHRs. The researchers observed and timed 170 clinical encounters; observed nurses and physicians; interviewed patients, nurses, and physicians; and conducted focus groups with nurses, nurses aides, and office staff.

    The investigators found that patients' trust in the physician and security in their relationship with the physician overcame most of their concerns related to the use of information technology, while physicians appeared to achieve a comfort level with the computer as a "third actor" in patient encounters. Resistance to EHR implementation from nurses and office staff was dispelled with improved work efficiencies. Unexpected changes included just-in-time improvements and less time spent out of the examination room by physicians.

    "Further outcomes research may also be warranted to examine the effects of EHR use on health and disease. In this population, our results justified the considerable expense, time, and effort expended. It is highly plausible that similar results could be obtained in comparable settings," the authors write.

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