Electronic health records, clinical decision support, and blood pressure control
Adding clinical decision support (CDS) to electronic health records (EHRs) is required under meaningful use legislation, but there has been little national data on effectiveness in improving clinical outcomes. We sought to determine whether EHRs with CDS improved blood pressure control in US primary care visits. Study Design: We used a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey. We examined adult visits to primary care physicians using the 2007 and 2008 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS). We found that patients had a mean age of 52 years, 34% were male, 15% had diabetes, and 70% were white. Rates of blood pressure control were significantly higher in visits where both an EHR and CDS (79%) were used, compared with visits where physicians used neither tool (74%; P = .004). Blood pressure control rates remained higher after adjusting for potential confounders. In unadjusted analyses, mean systolic blood pressure was 2 mm Hg lower in visits with the use of both an EHR and CDS, compared with visits where physicians used neither tool (P = .03), and this difference remained significant after adjustment. The NAMCS shows that physician use of an EHR with CDS is associated with improved blood pressure control. These findings are important because small improvements in blood pressure control are associated with reductions in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.