Objective: In 2002, the Institute of Medicine called for the introduction of information technologies in health care settings to improve quality of care. We conducted a review of hospital charts of women who delivered before and after the implementation of an intranet-based computerized prenatal record in an inner-city practice. Our objective was to assess whether the use of this record improved communication among the outpatient office, the ultrasonography unit, and the labor floor.
Methods: The charts of patients who delivered in August 2002 and August 2003 and received their prenatal care at the Comprehensive Family Care Center at Montefiore Medical Center were analyzed. Data collected included the presence of a copy of the prenatal record in the hospital chart, the date of the last documented prenatal visit, and documentation of any prenatal ultrasonograms performed.
Results: Forty-three charts in each group were available for review. The prenatal chart was absent in 16% of the charts of patients from August 2002 compared with only 2% in August 2003 charts (P < .05). Among charts with prenatal records available, the median length of time between the last documented prenatal visit and delivery was significantly longer for August 2002 patients compared with August 2003 patients (36 compared with 4 days, respectively, P < .001). All patients received prenatal ultrasonograms, but documentation of the ultrasonogram was missing from 16% of the August 2002 charts compared with none of the August 2003 charts (P = .01).
Conclusion: The use of a paperless, hospital intranet-based prenatal chart significantly improves communication among providers.