Objectives: One purpose of electronic reminders is improvement of the quality of documentation in office-hours primary care. The aim of this study was to evaluate how implementation of electronic reminders alters the rate and/or content of diagnostic data recorded by primary care physicians in office-hours practices in primary care health centers.
Methods: The present work is a register-based longitudinal follow-up study with a before-and-after design. An electronic reminder was installed in the electronic health record system of the primary health care of a Finnish city to remind physicians to include the diagnosis code of the visit in the health record. The report generator of the electronic health record system provided monthly figures for the number of various recorded diagnoses by using the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition, and the total number of visits to primary care physicians, thus allowing the calculation of the recording rate of diagnoses on a monthly basis. The distribution of diagnoses before and after implementing ERs was also compared.
Results: After the introduction of the electronic reminder, the rate of diagnosis recording by primary care physicians increased clearly from 39.7% to 87.2% (p < 0.001). The intervention enhanced the recording rate of symptomatic diagnoses (group R) and some chronic diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and other soft tissue disorders. Recording rate of diagnoses related to diseases of the respiratory system (group J), injuries, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (group S), and diseases of single body region of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (group M) decreased after the implementation of electronic reminders.
Conclusion: Electronic reminders may alter the contents and extent of recorded diagnosis data in office-hours practices of the primary care health centers. They were found to have an influence on the recording rates of diagnoses related to chronic diseases. Electronic reminders may be a useful tool in primary health care when attempting to change the behavior of primary care physicians.
Fields of Science
- RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL
- electronic medical record
- electronic reminder
- primary care
- 3141 Health care science
- 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health