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Little Impact So Far From Electronic Medical Records: Study

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Electronic health records have done little so far to improve the cost and quality of patient care, say U.S. researchers who compared 3,000 hospitals at various stages in the adoption of computerized health records.

"The way electronic medical records are used now has not yet had a real impact on the quality or cost of health care," said study leader Dr. Ashish K. Jha, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, The New York Times reported.

The findings were to be presented Monday at a conference in Boston.

It's believed that widespread use of electronic medical records instead of paper records will improve health care and could save the U.S. health care system as much as $100 billion a year, The Times reported.

The findings of this study aren't surprising because only a few hospitals are using the full capabilities of computerized health records, said Dr. Karen Bell, senior vice president for health information technology services at the nonprofit group Masspro.

"There will be no clear answers on the overall payoff from the wider use of electronic health records until we get further along, five years or more," Bell told The Times. "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't go forward."

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