The impact of electronic health record implementation on emergency physician efficiency and patient throughput

Healthc (Amst). 2014 Sep;2(3):201-4. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Aug 6.


Background: In emergency departments (EDs), the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) has the potential to impact the rapid assessment and management of life threatening conditions. In order to quantify this impact, we studied the implementation of EHRs in the EDs of a two hospital system.

Methods: using a prospective pre-post study design, patient processing metrics were collected for each ED physician at two hospitals for 7 months prior and 10 months post-EHR implementation. Metrics included median patient workup time, median length of stay, and the composite outcome indicator "processing time."

Results: median processing time increased immediately post-implementation and then returned to, and surpassed, the baseline level over 10 months. Overall, we see significant decreases in processing time as the number of patients treated increases.

Conclusions: implementation of new EHRs into the ED setting can be expected to cause an initial decrease in efficiency. With adaptation, efficiency should return to baseline levels and may eventually surpass them.

Implications: while EDs can expect long term gains from the implementation of EHRs, they should be prepared for initial decreases in efficiency and take preparatory measures to avert adverse effects on the quality of patient care.

Keywords: Applied information technology; Efficiency; Electronic health records; Emergency medicine; Health information technology; Quality of care.