, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 962-967

Electronic Medical Record Availability and Primary Care Depression Treatment

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ABSTRACT

Background

Electronic medical records (EMR) are commonly believed to improve quality of care. Primary care patients with multiple chronic conditions have potentially greater opportunity to benefit from receiving care at practices with EMRs if these systems help coordinate complex care.

Objective

To examine how chronic conditions impact the odds that depressed patients receive depression treatment in primary care practices with EMRs compared to practices without EMRs.

Design

The study uses logistic regression to analyze cross-sectional data of primary care physician office visits in freestanding, office-based practices from the 2006–2008 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys.

Patients

All visits to primary care providers made by patients ages 18 and older with physician-identified depression (N = 3,467).

Main Measures

Outcomes include depression treatment which is defined as receipt or ordering of antidepressant medication and/or mental health counseling.

Key Results

EMRs were associated with significantly lowered odds that depressed patients received depression treatment (OR = 0.75, p = 0.009, 95% CI: 0.61-0.93); however when stratified by the number of chronic conditions, this association was observed only in patients with three or more chronic conditions (OR = 0.50, p > 0.001, 95% CI: 0.36-0.70). EMRs did not have a significant association with depression treatment for patients with two or fewer chronic conditions.

Conclusions

EMRs appear to have an unintended negative association with depression care provided during visits made by primary care patients with multiple chronic conditions.