Study: Physicians with EHR access order more tests than those without

Physicians with access to EHRs tend to order more tests that those who do not, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Researchers analyzed data on non–federally employed, office-based physicians from the 2008 to 2012 Electronic Health Medical Records Survey, a supplement to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The researchers excluded federal and Department of Veterans Affairs' hospitals.

Here are three insights:

1. Physicians who actively used an EHR system ordered more complete blood count tests than physicians who did not, even when adjusting for patient demographics, health status and case mix.

2. Physicians with EHR access ordered more computerized tomography scans and X-rays than their non-EHR using counterparts.

3. There was no significant difference between the two groups with regard to ordering MRIs.

Thus, the study authors write, "We argue that EHR use may actually increase healthcare expenditures by facilitating the ease of ordering tests." However, they also note that further research is required to determine whether these extra tests carry clinical utility.

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