EMRs improve mental healthcare in more ways than one

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Electronic medical records (EMR) is the standard in patient data for many hospitals, but the impact is less well understood in mental healthcare. A study, published in Journal of Medical Internet Research: Medical Informatics, examines the effects of electronic records on patient outcomes in a mental healthcare facility.

Researchers set out to implement and personalize EMRs for mental healthcare to improve factors such as closed loop medication administration, collaborative planning of care, clinical practice guidelines for schizophrenia and drug of abuse screening.

Working with a tertiary-level mental health facility in Ontario, Canada, researchers found the following:

  • Medication and patient scan rates were greater than 95 percent.
  • Only one moderately severe and zero severe adverse drug event occurred.
  • The number of restraint incidents decreased by 19.7 percent, saving a total of $1 million.
  • The implementation of clinical guidelines for schizophrenia standardized care across the facility.
  • Improved infection prevention and control surveillance reduced outbreak days from 47 to seven.
  • Decision support for the use of cost-effective drug abuse screens saved money.

“Implementation of a fully integrated EMR and the use of data analytics to identify quality improvement projects provided value at the clinical, organizational, and societal levels,” concluded Sanaz Riahi, RN, MSN, the first author on the study, and colleagues. “One of the strengths of this project was that corporate data were used to capture the outcomes of the relevant population in its entirety rather than consenting a subset of participants, which may have introduced selection bias because more motivated and well patients would be more likely to volunteer to participate.

"Additionally, this project incorporated a number of implementation facilitators identified in the literature, such as active involvement and support of management, inclusion of clinical staff in the implementation and decision-making processes, end-user training and real-time support, and the identification of physician champion and point-of-care staff champions to provide support to peers.”