Imminent adopters of electronic health records in ambulatory care

Rainu Kaushal, David Bates, Chelsea Jenter, Shannon Mills, Lynn Volk, Elisabeth Burdick, Micky Tripathi, Steven Simon


Background Although evidence suggests electronic health records (EHRs) can improve quality and efficiency, provider adoption rates in the US ambulatory setting are relatively low. Prior studies have identified factors correlated with EHR use, but less is known about characteristics of physicians on the verge of adoption.
Objective To compare characteristics of physicians who are imminent adopters of EHRs with EHR users and non-users.
Design and participants A survey was mailed (June - November 2005) to a stratified random sample of all medical practices in Massachusetts. One physician from each practice (n=1884) was randomly selected to participate. Overall, 1345 physicians (71.4%) responded to the survey, with 1082 eligible for analysis due to exclusion criteria. 'Imminent adopters' were those planning to adopt EHRs within 12 months.
Measurements We assessed physician and practice characteristics, availability of technology, barriers to adoption or expansion of health information technology (HIT), computer proficiency, and financial considerations.
Results Compared to non-users, imminent adopters were younger, more experienced with technology, and more often in practices engaged in quality improvement. More imminent adopters owned or partly owned their practices (57.4%) than users (33.5%; p<0.001), but fewer imminent adopters owned their practices than non-users (65.7%; p<0.001). Additionally, more imminent adopters (26.0%) reported personal financial incentives for HIT use than users (14.8%; p<0.001) and non-users (10.8%; p<0.001).
Conclusions Imminent adopters of EHRs differed from users and non-users. Financial considerations appear to play a major role in adoption decisions. Knowledge of these differences may assist policymakers and healthcare leaders as they work to increase EHR adoption rates.


adoption barriers; electronic health records; healthcare information technology

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