According to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, electronic health record (ERH) systems and reduced malpractice claims against physicians are strongly related. In the study, researchers from numerous Harvard-affiliated medical groups reviewed the claims data of a malpractice insurer in Massachusetts dating from 1995-2007. They analyzed the annual rates of malpractice claims before and after medical practices implemented an ERH system and found that the adjusted rate of filed claims decreased by 600% following the system’s adoption.
On October 1, 2012, the Affordable Care Act began requiring that health care providers “(adopt) and (implement) rules for the secure, confidential, electronic exchange of health information.” Implementation of this change is likely to take some time, of course. The Obama administration asserts that, by standardizing billing and reducing paperwork, medical costs and errors will be dramatically reduced. Thus, if the admittedly very limited study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine is accurate in its findings, perhaps we will see a significant reduction in medical malpractice claims in the future.