EMR Increases Patient Satisfaction?

The Journal of Medical Internet Research just published a paper concluding that an EMR had improved patient satisfaction in Pediatric Rheumatology practices. Included in the overall satisfaction was the perceived improvement in quality by the patient.

A couple of thoughts based on my experience:
1.) Frequent patients are more likely to report a positive feeling toward an EMR, thus the more positive result of the paper.
2.) The mainstream public typically views EMRs as a “You aren’t doing that already?” kind of thing.
3.) The level of meaningful communication that can be had between staff and patients is directly correlated with patient satisfaction unless the practice is totally screwing up something else, like safety. Noting this, practices tend to communicate more with patients while undergoing an EMR implementation. Generally, it is to explain why things are a bit chaotic, but the increase in communication is viewed as positive by the patient. Therefore, it would be more interesting if they measured patient satisfaction levels at these practices a year after implementation when the extra communication has died down from the implementation drama.
4.) Successful EMR implementations result from a lot of process modifications in the practice. Could a process analysis with changes also increase patient satisfaction as much as was recorded here?

The paper jumps to conclusions just a bit, but it does add to the evidence that EMRs can be a factor in improved patient satisfaction. Just don’t go calling it the cause just yet.

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