Friday, July 13, 2007

Electronic Medical Records: Physician Offices Slowly Adopt EMR Systems

How many physician offices use electronic medical record (EMR) systems in the United States? Data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey suggest EMR medical software systems are growing in popularity, but that most physicians still practice medicine with paper and pencil.

One-quarter of office-based physicians report using full or partial electronic medical record systems in 2005, a 31% increase from the 18.2% reported in the 2001 survey, but suggesting the race to computerize physician offices has a long way to go before the finish line is in sight.

EMR use did not vary by physician age, gender or specialty type, according to the NAMCS. The data also show physicians in the Midwest and West are more likely to use EMRs than those in the Northeast.

Wrote the researchers, "Although these estimates show that progress has been made toward the goal of universal electronic health records, there is still a long way to go. Solo practitioners are the least likely to use EMRs, whether measured generally or for an EMR system with four specific features. Although solo practitioners make up about one-third of physicians, they comprise about two-thirds of medical practices. Additionally, the features of EMRs vary widely; clinical reminders and public health reporting lag behind the other features of systems in current use."

For more information, see National Center for Health Statistics.

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