Use of EHRs helps speed treatment of STDs

June 10, 2010

Practices using paper notes should consider switching to electronic health records to improve the efficiency with which they recall and treat sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, according to research conducted at the Patrick Clements Clinic, Central Middlesex Hospital, London.

Practices using paper notes should consider switching to electronic health records (EHRs) to improve the efficiency with which they recall and treat sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, according to research conducted at the Patrick Clements Clinic, Central Middlesex Hospital, London. The results recently were published online by the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

The researchers identified 52 consecutive qualifying patients each in 2007 (when the clinic used paper case records) and 2009 (after the clinic had changed to EHRs). They measured the time between the patient's first visit to the clinic and the clinic's first positive test result receipt, first positive result receipt and the clinic's first attempt to contact the patient, and the first attempt to contact the patient and patient attendance at the clinic for treatment.

The investigators found that:

the time between a patient's first clinic visit and treatment was reduced from 21 days in 2007 to 11.5 days in 2009;

the median time taken to treat a patient after the clinic received a positive chlamydia test result was reduced from 15 days in 2007 to 3.5 days in 2009; and

the percentage of patients treated within two weeks of the clinic having received a positive result increased from 38 percent in 2007 to 94 percent in 2009.

The use of EHRs decreased the time it took for the clinic to recall a patient by eliminating time-delaying patient-recall processes, according to the researchers. Also, they reported, by ensuring more accurate patient recall information, EHRs lead to a higher percentage of patients being successfully recalled by telephone (59 percent in 2007 versus 88 percent in 2009), leading to earlier treatment.

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