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A New Study: Easing the Adoption and Use of Electronic Health Records in Small Practices

04.13.2010

A new study identifies lessons learned by organizations that help small physician practices adopt and use electronic health records (EHRs).  

The authors surveyed 29 initiatives that help smaller medical practices adopt and use EHR technology, including some regional extension centers. They obtained information from program leaders, Web sites, and published reports.

Key Findings

  • Current programs providing health IT assistance form one-on-one relationships with practice clinicians and staff to overcome implementation barriers—such as lack of technical expertise, isolation, and practice disruption—and to increase odds of successful practice transformation.
  • Practice consultants need direct experience with small practices, the technical expertise to manage relationships with vendors, knowledge of software implementation, and know-how around work-flow change and quality improvement methods. Program leaders warned of a shortage of such individuals and remain concerned about finding sufficient qualified staff.
  • A significant barrier to successful implementation and use of health IT is underestimating the effort and upheaval that accompany implementation.
  • Most assistance programs can provide only limited help with selecting software and hardware, yet this is a critical decision for practices.
  • Practice redesign and quality improvement methods are integral to using health IT to its full capabilities. Program leaders stressed addressing practice redesign prior to, or simultaneously with, health IT implementation.

Citation

P. Torda, E. S. Han, and S. H. Scholle, “Easing the Adoption and Use of Electronic Health Records in Small Practices,” Health Affairs, April 2010 29(4):668–75. 

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