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Doctors Slow to Embrace Electronic Medical Records
Date:6/18/2008

But family practitioners and doctors in the West are increasingly wired, survey finds

WEDNESDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- Electronic medical record systems are being touted as the wave of the future in health care and communication, but only 17 percent of U.S. doctors have embraced the technology, a new survey finds.

"When you use a good definition of what a record system is, very few physicians appear to have one," said lead study author Catherine M. DesRoches, at Massachusetts General Hospital's Institute for Health Policy, in Boston.

The definition of a fully functional electronic medical record system includes a patient's complete medical records, medication lists, problems, and clinical notes from past visits. The doctor can also order prescriptions, laboratory tests and radiology tests electronically, DesRoches said.

In addition, the doctor can review lab results and view X-rays, MRIs or other scans on the computer, DesRoches noted. There are also warnings about inappropriate prescriptions or abnormal lab results. And the systems remind the doctor when lab or screening tests are needed.

For the survey, DesRoches and her colleagues surveyed 2,758 doctors nationwide about their use of electronic medical record systems. The researchers found that 4 percent reported having a fully functional system. An additional 13 percent said they had a basic system.

The survey also found that primary care doctors and doctors with large practices or those in hospitals or medical centers were more likely to have electronic medical record systems. In addition, doctors in the western region of the United States were more likely to have such systems.

The findings, published online Wednesday, were expected to be published in the July 3 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Doctors cited a number of barriers for not adopting an electronic medical record system, includi
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