Martin Chieng Were The usage of electronic medical records has been a controversial issue from quite some time now. While an article highlighted the merits of adopting electronic medical records, another investigation did not consider it vital. Well, amidst this debate of whether hospitals should use them or no, scientists from the Regenstrief Institute and the schools of medicine at Indiana University and Moi University claim that electronic record systems help improve quality of medical care in a developing country.

It was mentioned that computer-generated reminders about overdue tests offer almost a 50 percent elevation in the appropriate ordering of CD4 blood tests. CD4 counts appear critical in examining the health of HIV patients and guide treatment decisions. While conducting the study, investigators thoroughly scrutinized the impact of just-in-time clinician support which is implemented within electronic medical records. This support is believed to serve as a health care provider. Experts used computer-generated clinical reminders in sub-Saharan Africa. It was asserted that clinical summaries with computer-generated reminders can remarkably boost clinician adherence to CD4 testing guidelines.

“We need to improve quality of care in the developing world at a time when funding for HIV and other diseases is stagnating or decreasing – which means we will have to do it with fewer personnel as the number of patients increases. Finding innovative ways to improve care within these constraints is critical. This study shows how electronic medical record systems with clinical decision support capabilities can help fill this need,” elucidated Dr. Martin Chieng Were, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine.

Many a times HIV patients in developed countries may develop infectious disease and require specialists for their HIV care. However, a large number of HIV-positive patients in resource-limited countries like Kenya are seemingly taken care of by clinical officers whose level of training is similar to that of nurse practitioners. Once electronic medical records are put to use, then providing chronic disease management and keeping up-to-date results in suboptimal patient care can be possibly simplified.

The research is published in the March 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.