Patients who have three or more chronic medical conditions are half as likely to receive depression treatment in primary care practices that use electronic medical records as they are in practices that use paper-based records, a new University of Florida study has found.
Electronic medical records, or EMRs, are generally thought to improve health care by allowing better coordination of care and increased accuracy in diagnosis and treatment. But the UF study raises questions about how computerized records systems could affect mental health care.
“While we don’t know why EMRs are associated with lower odds of depression treatment in patients with multiple conditions, we think that either they reduce the amount of interaction between patients and physicians or they focus a physician’s attention on physical health issues, pushing mental health issues off the radar screen,” said lead investigator Jeffrey Harman, an associate professor and the Louis C. and Jane Gapenski Term Professor of Health Services Administration at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions.
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