A new study published in the Annals of Family Medicine finds that the use of electronic health records with diabetes patients did not lead to improved adherence of care guidelines or improved outcomes. The study analyzed data from 16 EHR-using practices and another 26 EHR-free practices located in two Northeastern states. Researchers assessed measures of care for about 800 diabetes patients, and found that EHR use did not lead to better adherence to care guidelines.

EHR use was also not tied to more rapid improvement in adherence, the study found, and patients in EHR-free practices were more likely to meet outcome targets at the two-year follow-up.

"Consistent use of an EHR over three years does not ensure successful use for improving the quality of diabetes care," the study concludes. "Ongoing efforts to encourage adoption and meaningful use of EHRs in primary care should focus on ensuring that use succeeds in improving care. These efforts will need to include provision of assistance to longer-term EHR users."

Here are some other findings:

  • While adherence to treatment guidelines improved over the first two years, from 43.8 percent of patients to 51.7 percent, the rates of improvement were the same between the two groups.
  • The percentage of patients reaching targeted outcomes also increased measurably leading up to the two-year follow-up, but there was also no significant difference between the two groups.
  • Patients in practices with paper records were consistently more likely to receive recommended care at the two-year follow-up, though the difference was only statistically significant with respect to achieving outcome targets.