A substantial amount of research has been published on the association between the use of electronic medical records (EMRs) and quality outcomes in U.S. hospitals, while limited research has focused on the Western European experience. The purpose of this study is to explore the association between the use of EMR technologies in Dutch hospitals and length of stay after colorectal cancer surgery. Two data sets were leveraged for this study; the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAMSM) and the Dutch surgical colorectal audit (DSCA). The HIMSS Analytics EMRAM score was used to define a Dutch hospital's electronic medical records (EMR) capabilities while the DSCA was used to profile colorectal surgery quality outcomes (specifically total length of stay (LOS) in the hospital and the LOS in ICU). A total of 73 hospitals with a valid EMRAM score and associated DSCA patients (n = 30.358) during the study period (2012-2014) were included in the comparative set. A multivariate regression method was used to test differences adjusted for case mix, year of surgery, surgical technique and for complications, as well as stratifying for academic affiliated hospitals and general hospitals. A significant negative association was observed to exist between the total LOS (relative median LOS 0,974, CI 95% 0.959-0,989) of patients treated in advanced EMR hospitals (high EMRAM score cohort) versus patients treated at less advanced EMR care settings, once the data was adjusted for the case mix, year of surgery and type of surgery (laparoscopy or laparotomy). Adjusting for complications in a subgroup of general hospitals (n = 39) yielded essentially the same results (relative median LOS 0,934, CI 95% 0,915-0,954). No consistent significant associations were found with respect to LOS on the ICU. The findings of this study suggest advanced EMR capabilities support a healthcare provider's efforts to achieve desired quality outcomes and efficiency in Western European hospitals.
Keywords: Colorectal surgery; EMR; Health care; Hospital; Maturity model; Quality assurance.