JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Sep 1;3(9):e2012529. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.12529.
IMPORTANCE: By 2018, Medicare spent more than $30 billion to incentivize the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), based partially on the belief that EHRs would improve health care quality and safety. In a time when most hospitals are well past minimum meaningful use (MU) requirements, examining whether EHR implementation beyond the minimum threshold is associated with increased quality and safety may guide the future focus of EHR development and incentive structures.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether EHR implementation above MU performance thresholds is associated with changes in hospital patient satisfaction, efficiency, and safety.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This quantile regression analysis of cross-sectional data used publicly available data sets from 2362 acute care hospitals in the United States participating in both the MU and Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (HVBP) programs from January 1 to December 31, 2016. Data were analyzed from August 1, 2019, to May 22, 2020.
EXPOSURES: Seven MU program performance measures, including medication and laboratory orders placed through the EHR, online health information availability and access rates, medication reconciliation through the EHR, patient-specific educational resources, and electronic health information exchange.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The HVBP outcomes included patient satisfaction survey dimensions, Medicare spending per beneficiary, and 5 types of hospital-acquired infections.
RESULTS: Among the 2362 participating hospitals, mixed associations were found between MU measures and HVBP outcomes, all varying by outcome quantile and in some cases by interaction with EHR vendor. Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for laboratory orders was associated with decreased ratings of every patient satisfaction outcome at middle quantiles (communication with nurses: β = -0.33 [P = .04]; communication with physicians: β = -0.50 [P < .001]; responsiveness of hospital staff: β = -0.57 [P = .03]; care transition performance: β = -0.66 [P < .001]; communication about medicines: β = -0.52 [P = .002]; cleanliness and quietness: β = -0.58 [P = .007]; discharge information: β = -0.48 [P < .001]; and overall rating: β = -0.95 [P < .001]). However, at middle quantiles, CPOE for medication orders was associated with increased ratings for communication with physicians (τ = 0.5; β = 0.54; P = .009), care transition (τ = 0.5; β = 1.24; P < .001), discharge information (τ = 0.5; β = 0.41; P = .01), and overall hospital ratings (τ = 0.5; β = 0.97; P = .02). At high quantiles, electronic health information exchange was associated with improved ratings of communication with nurses (τ = 0.9; β = 0.23; P = .03). Medication reconciliation had positive associations with increased communication with nursing at low quantiles (τ = 0.1; β = 0.60; P < .001), increased discharge information at middle quantiles (τ = 0.5; β = 0.28; P = .03), and responsiveness of hospital staff at middle (τ = 0.5; β = 0.77; P = .001) and high (τ = 0.9; β = 0.84; P = .001) quantiles. Patients accessing their health information online was not associated with any outcomes. Increased use of patient-specific educational resources identified through the EHR was associated with increased ratings of communication with physicians at high quantiles (τ = 0.9; β = 0.20; P = .02) and with decreased spending at low-spending hospitals (τ = 0.1; β = -0.40; P = .008).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Increasing EHR implementation, as measured by MU criteria, was not straightforwardly associated with increased HVBP measures of patient satisfaction, spending, and safety in this study. These results call for a critical evaluation of the criteria by which EHR implementation is measured and increased attention to how different EHR products may lead to differential outcomes.