Electronic Health Records Improve the Quality of Care in Underserved Populations: A Literature Review


Organizations in underserved settings are implementing or upgrading electronic health records (EHRs) in hopes of improving quality and meeting Federal goals for meaningful use of EHRs. However, much of the research that has been conducted on health information technology does not study use in underserved settings, or does not include EHRs. We conducted a structured literature search of MEDLINE to find articles supporting the contention that EHRs improve quality in underserved settings. We found 17 articles published between 2003 and 2011. These articles were mostly in urban settings, and most study types were descriptive in nature. The articles provide evidence that EHRs can improve documentation, process measures, guideline-adherence, and (to a lesser extent) outcome measures. Providers and managers believed that EHRs would improve the quality and efficiency of care. The limited quantity and quality of evidence point to a need for ongoing research in this area.