Drivers of electronic medical record adoption among medical groups

Jodi S Simon, Thomas G Rundall, Stephen M Shortell
Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety 2005, 31 (11): 631-9

BACKGROUND: Use of electronic medical records (EMRs) in health care organizations can reduce medical errors and improve quality of care through physicians' increased use of evidence-based patient care processes. However, only 20%-25% of physician organizations have adopted EMRs. A study was undertaken to determine the characteristics of primary care medical groups that distinguish EMR adopter from nonadopter organizations.

METHODS: A quantitative nationwide survey was undertaken of all primary care medical groups in the United States with 20 or more physicians; data were collected on 738 medical groups (70% response rate).

RESULTS: Fewer than one-third of the medical groups reported having either patients' medical records or progress notes in an EMR. Large organizations with relatively fewer practice locations were more likely to adopt an EMR.

DISCUSSION: Large medical groups are more likely to have the financial and human resources necessary to overcome barriers to the adoption of an EMR. Knowing the influence of the other organizational characteristics on EMR adoption will help prepare organizational leaders for the complicated process of achieving consensus among physicians and others in medical groups on the expenditure of funds and other resources to acquire an EMR. Financial incentives for all medical groups will help drive EMR adoption, but financial and technical assistance aimed specifically at smaller groups is particularly warranted. Widespread adoption of EMR among medical groups will take time.


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