Queensland’s electronic medical record investment has benefited health system, UQ study finds

11 July 2024

Implementing electronic medical records in Queensland hospitals led to a reduction in medication complications and hospital-acquired infections, and positively boosted hospital activity, a University of Queensland (UQ) study has found.

The study is one of the largest longitudinal analyses conducted globally on the impact of digital hospitals and involved 1.55 million episodes of care across 13 Queensland Health hospitals. It came six years after integrated Electronic Medical Records (ieMR) were first introduced in public hospitals in Queensland.

Lead author Dr Lee Woods, Senior Research Fellow at UQ’s Queensland Digital Health Centre (QDHeC), said the study set out to assess the impact of ieMR implementation across four dimensions of healthcare improvement, known as the Quadruple Aim of Healthcare.

“We assessed the correlation between digital health and real-world health system outcomes mapped to achieving the Quadruple Aim of improved population health; patient experience; healthcare costs; and provider experience,” Dr Woods said.

“The findings evidenced a positive impact of digitising hospitals on population health with a 12.87 % decline in medication complications, 14.27 % reduction in hospital acquired infections, and improvement in the healthcare costs aim with a 3.42 % increase in hospital activity.”

The study is published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics.

“This is the largest study of the digital health impacts upon healthcare system outcomes as defined by the Quadruple Aim. Our findings show overall positive or neutral effects of advancing digital health,” the study reported.

“Remarkably, there were no unexpected negative impacts on the outcomes measured,” senior author and QDHeC Director, Professor Clair Sullivan said.

The authors said the findings were encouraging and should provide confidence to healthcare decision-makers investing in digital health.

Co-author Dr Raelene Donovan, Acting Chief Clinical Information Officer, eHealth Queensland said: “Other health services can learn about the positive experience that we have seen in Queensland.”

The study was unable to fully measure all the indicators linked to fully achieving the Quadruple Aims of Healthcare because of data limitations.

“Future research should seek to enable better measures to systematically assess the Quadruple Aim for digital health transformations to ensure digital health is delivering better and balanced healthcare outcomes, and not just [focusing on] the technology itself.”

The study found that for medication complications and hospital-acquired infections, there was a significant improvement in the year following EMR implementation.

Likewise, the findings showed an improvement in the healthcare costs aim with an overall 3.42 % increase in hospital activity in the year following EMR implementation.

“The largest increase in hospital activity was observed in the second quarter which was attributed to activity escalating following the stabilisation period and demonstrates the hospitals could service increased demand.

“Improvements in hospital activity identified in our study can result in significant revenue for digital hospitals.

“Given the large capital expenditure required to implement an EMR, further economic analyses are needed to help demonstrate how this increase can offset the costs of the implementation.”

L. Woods, R. Eden, D. Green, A. Pearce, R. Donovan, K. McNeil, and C. Sullivan, ‘Impact of digital health on the quadruple aims of healthcare: A correlational and longitudinal study (Digimat Study)’, International Journal of Medical Informatics (2024), 105528


Volume 189, 21 June 2024, 105528