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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan: Electronic Health Records May Compromise Safety for Chemotherapy Patients

Expanded use of electronic health records (EHRs) was promoted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2019 as a way to streamline patient information. But a recent University of Michigan study confirms earlier research about EHRs’ shortcomings — this time in the highly complex outpatient chemotherapy setting.

“Chemo is a high-volume, high-risk endeavor and most patients receive these treatments in centers like the ones we studied,” said Dr. Christopher Friese, principal investigator. Dr. Friese is the Elizabeth Tone Hosmer Professor of Nursing at the UM School of Nursing and professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “Unlike some other treatments, there’s no reversal, there’s no antidote, we have to get it right the first time. This study tells us that in this complicated space, oncology clinicians tell us that the EHR is posing challenges.”

Clinicians reported lower safety scores in settings with the most sophisticated EHRs. As expected, higher satisfaction with technology and better clinician communication was associated with higher safety scores.

“You can’t assume a provider in the same clinic or system has the same information. It’s important for patients and loved ones to keep their own careful notes,” said Dr. Friese.  

EHR shortcomings posed safety and communication issues for chemotherapy patients and clinicians, said lead author Dr. Minal Patel, the John G. Searle Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at Michigan Public Health.

“The impact that greater use of electronic systems in practices has on patient safety underscores the importance of devoting more attention to strengthening communication between members of the care team,” she said.

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