Juliet Rumball-Smith, David Bates, M.D., Paul G. Shekelle
J. Rumball-Smith, P. G. Shekelle, and D. W. Bates, “Using the Electronic Health Record to Understand and Minimize Overuse,” Journal of the American Medical Association, published online Jan. 17, 2017.
The “overuse” of health care—the delivery of services that are either unnecessary or of low clinical value—accounts for substantial spending in our health system. It also may cause harm to patients. Many factors contribute to overuse, including the increasing role of technology in medicine, reliance on physician payment models that encourage utilization, and patients’ expectations for their treatment. In a JAMA “Viewpoint,” Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow Juliet Rumball-Smith, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., along with coauthors Paul Shekelle, M.D., and David Bates, M.D., argue that electronic health records (EHRs) can help target and eliminate unnecessary health care.
The authors posit that the flexibility of EHR systems make them valuable tools for addressing overuse. They point to examples at three U.S. health care organizations:
The authors encourage further discussion about whether the most effective intervention for reducing overuse is one of the approaches outlined above or some combination of the three. With EHRs reaching 80 percent penetration in U.S. physician offices and hospitals, they have the potential to be a powerful tool for measuring and reducing overuse of care.