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Meaningful Use of EHRs Helped Prevent Adverse Drug Effects in Hospitals

ROCKVILLE, MD -- Over the last decade, hospitals rapidly adopted electronic health records with Meaningful Use (MU) capabilities in hopes of improving medication safety. Yet, according to a new report, evidence was lacking until now that MU capabilities actually are associated with declines in in-hospital adverse drug events (ADEs).

The study, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, sought to determine how MU capabilities affected occurrence of ADEs, adjusting for patient characteristics, hospital characteristics, and year of observation.

A study team led by researchers from the Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets — part of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at the Department of Health and Human Services — used data from the 2010–2013 Medicare Patient Safety Monitoring System and the 2008–2013 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics Database to analyze effectiveness.

Results indicate that rates of in-hospital ADEs declined by 22% from 2010 to 2013. Researchers found that adoption of MU capabilities was associated with 11% lower odds of an ADE, and interoperability capability was associated with 19% lower odds of an ADE.

They suggest that adoption of MU capabilities explained 22% of the observed reduction in ADEs, representing 67,000 fewer ADEs averted by MU.

“Concurrent with the rapid uptake of MU and interoperability, occurrence of in-hospital ADEs declined significantly from 2010 to 2013,” study authors wrote. “MU capabilities and interoperability were associated with lower occurrence of ADEs, but the effects did not vary by experience with MU. About one-fifth of the decline in ADEs from 2010 to 2013 was attributable to MU capabilities.”

In concluding, they emphasized that their results “support the contention that adoption of MU capabilities and interoperability spurred by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act contributed in part to the recent decline in ADEs.”