Electronic medical record use by office-based physicians and their practices: United States, 2007

Esther Hing, Chun-Ju Hsiao
National Health Statistics Reports 2010 March 31, (23): 1-11

OBJECTIVES: This report presents information on the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) by office-based physicians in 2007. Percentages of medical practices and physicians within practices using EMR systems are presented by selected physician and practice characteristics.

METHODS: Data from the physician induction interviews of the 2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) are presented. NAMCS is based upon a national probability sample of nonfederal office-based physicians who saw patients in an office setting. Sample data were weighted to produce national estimates of office-based physician characteristics and their practices.

RESULTS: In 2007, 34.8 percent of office-based physicians reported using any EMR (all electronic or partially electronic medical record) system, which represented a 19.2 percent increase since 2006 and a 91.2 percent increase since 2001. Starting in 2005, NAMCS included additional questions about features of electronic record systems making it possible to categorize systems as basic or fully functional using similar definitions developed by health information technology (HIT) experts. Fully functional systems are a subset of basic systems. Some systems do not meet the requirements. In 2007, 11.8 percent of physicians had systems meeting the criteria of basic systems (95% CI: 9.6-13.9), unchanged from 2006 (10.5 percent). The percentage of office-based physicians with systems meeting the definition of fully functional (3.8 percent, 95% CI: 2.6-5.0) was similar to the 2006 percentage (3.1 percent). Physicians in practices with 11 or more physicians were most likely to use any EMR system (74.3 percent), whereas physicians in solo practice were least likely to use EMRs (20.6 percent). EMR use was higher among physicians in multi-specialty practices (52.5 percent) than in solo or single-specialty practices (30.3 percent). EMR use was inversely associated with physician age. If those without EMR systems in 2007 with definite plans to install one actually do so, 53.6 percent of physicians will have some type of an EMR system in 2010.

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