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Physician practices appear ready for electronic health record implementation

Research Activities, July 2009, No. 347

As the United States tries to meet its goal of universal electronic health records (EHR) by 2014, regional health information organizations (RHIOs) and related entities are being formed to assist in this effort. The Massachusetts e-Health Collaborative (MAeHC) is implementing EHRs in physicians' offices located in three diverse communities and establishing an electronic health information exchange within each of those communities. Researchers have discovered that these practices mirror other physician practices throughout the State in terms of their readiness to embrace the use of EHRs.

The researchers compared the responses of 355 MAeHC physicians with those of 1,345 physicians who were randomly selected. The survey asked about physician and practice characteristics, Internet connectivity, current health information technology use, financial incentives, satisfaction with their current practice situation, and problems that physicians encounter, such as isolation from colleagues, stress, and long work hours. A similar proportion of physicians in both sample groups reported receiving incentives to adopt EHRs. There were also similarities in usage, patient satisfaction scores, and clinical quality measures. The majority of practices in both groups said they had limited or no financial capital to expand or improve their practices.

Internet connections were more readily available in MAeHC physician offices (96 percent) compared with statewide practices (83 percent). Physicians in MAeHC practices were more likely to report that computers would have positive effects in their offices. More MAeHC than statewide physicians (68 vs. 55 percent) felt that computers would have a positive effect on controlling health care costs. Both groups reported similar barriers to starting or expanding computer use in their offices. MAeHC practices resembled statewide practices in terms of size, existing computer infrastructure, technology adoption, and quality incentives. These findings indicate that the experiences of the physicians and practices participating in the MAeHC are likely to be generalizable to physicians and practices elsewhere throughout Massachusetts.

The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15397). See "Readiness for electronic health records: Comparison of characteristics of practices in a collaborative with the remainder of Massachusetts," by Steven R. Simon, M.D., M.P.H., Rainu Kaushal, M.D., M.P.H., Lynn A. Volk, M.H.S., and others, in Informatics in Primary Care 16, pp. 129-137, 2008.

Current as of July 2009
Internet Citation: Physician practices appear ready for electronic health record implementation: Research Activities, July 2009, No. 347. July 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/jul09/0709RA27.html