EHRs can help address health care disparities

Primary care physicians could help address health disparities between black and white patients if they implement electronic health records, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Reuters reports.
For the study, researchers examined federal government survey data from 2007 and 2008 on 17,000 U.S. primary care visits where physicians recorded patients’ blood pressure.

According to the study, 69% of blacks and 75% of whites who received care at primary care offices that used paper-based medical records had their blood pressure relatively under control. At physician offices that used EHRs, 75% of blacks and 78% of whites had acceptable blood pressure levels, the study found.
Lipika Samal, an author of the study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said more research is needed to discern why the gap in blood pressure between whites and blacks closed when EHRs were used. Samal said that EHR tools could help physicians make better decisions, such as suggesting less expensive medications for low-income patients.

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