Electronic Medical Records: Lessons from Small Physician Practices

University of California, San Francisco

This report provides solo and small-group physicians with practical information on electronic medical records (EMRs) implementation and use. It is based on interviews with 20 practitioners who have adopted EMRs.

October 2003

This project provides solo and small group physicians with practical information on the implementation and use of electronic medical records (EMRs). The solo and small group physician audience was chosen for two reasons. While estimates of the rates of EMR use at the time of the project were relatively low -- likely less than 13% -- estimates of physician interest in EMRs ranged from 31% to 65% of physicians nationwide. In addition, approximately 70% of active, practicing physicians in California work independently or in small groups of ten physicians or fewer; yet little had been published on their experience using EMRs.

This report is also of interest to employers and employer coalitions that provide health care benefits; policymakers in government that craft legislation; managers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and research and demonstration funding agencies. These stakeholders increasingly recognize that the use of information technology and electronic medical records is critical to improving quality of care. Understanding EMR use in solo practices and small groups can help craft policies that hasten electronic medical records adoption.