How can I use my electronic health record to improve quality?

Benefits of Electronic Health Records

Medicine is an information-rich enterprise. By making it easier for providers and patients to use and share information, electronic health records (EHRs) can help you do a better job of managing patient care and improve patient and public health outcomes.

  • EHRs Can Be the Foundation for Quality Improvements: EHRs place accurate and complete information about patients' health and medical history at providers' fingertips. Armed with this information, providers can give the best possible care, at the point of care. This can help providers and patients collaborate on a better patient experience and, most importantly, help them deliver the best possible care.
  • EHRs Can Support Provider Decision Making: EHRs can help providers make efficient, effective decisions about patient care, through:
    • Improved aggregation, analysis, and communication of patient information
    • Clinical alerts and reminders
    • Support for diagnostic and therapeutic decisions
    • Built-in safeguards against potential adverse events
  • EHRs Can Reduce Errors, Improve Patient Safety, and Support Better Patient Outcomes: EHRs don't just contain or transmit information; they "compute" it. EHRs manipulate the information in ways that make a difference for patients.
    • A certified EHR, when effectively implemented, can automatically check for drug-drug and drug-allergy interactions whenever a new medication is prescribed and alert the clinician to potential conflicts.
    • Information gathered by a primary care provider and recorded in an EHR can notify a clinician in the emergency department about a patient's life-threatening allergy, and emergency staff can adjust care appropriately, even if the patient is unconscious.
    • EHRs can expose potential safety problems when they occur, helping providers avoid more serious consequences for patients and leading to better patient outcomes.

Meaningful Use

One of the best ways to leverage your EHR to improve quality is to achieve meaningful use. By putting into action and meaningfully using an EHR system, providers will reap benefits beyond financial incentives–such as reduction in errors, availability of records and data, reminders and alerts, clinical decision support, and e-prescribing/refill automation.1 For more information about meaningful use, see the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services EHR Meaningful Use Overview.

Your Local Regional Extension Center Can Help

Your local Regional Extension Center (REC) can help you use your EHR to improve quality. RECs are located in every region of the country to help health care providers select, implement, and become adept and meaningful users of EHRs. Contact your local REC to find out if you are eligible for free or reduced-price local EHR selection support.

For More Information

For more information on how you can use health IT to improve health care quality and examples of how providers in the field are using health IT to improve health care quality, see the following resources.


  1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "CMS EHR Meaningful Use Overview."
Content last reviewed on June 13, 2019
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