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The electronic health record as a catalyst for quality improvement in patient care
  1. Thomas H Payne
  1. Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas H Payne, Medicine IT Services, Box 359968, 325 Ninth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98105, USA; tpayne{at}


Electronic health records (EHRs) are now broadly used, following decades of development and incentive programmes for their use. EHRs have been shown through use of reminders, electronic order sets and other means to improve reliability of performance of many basic tasks in acute, preventive and chronic care. They assist with collecting, summarising and displaying the large volumes of information in patient records and support the implementation of guidelines and care pathways. Broad use of EHRs has brought into focus weaknesses of the current generation of EHRs: their user interface, implementation difficulties, time required to use them and others. Addressing these weaknesses and adopting new technologies, including use of voice, natural language processing and data analytic techniques, is necessary for EHRs to achieve their full potential: to gather information from routine care, to learn from it and to be an integral component of efforts to continuously improve and to transform care.

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.