Doctors' use of EMRs has increased more than 90 percent since 2001

Despite common theory about electronic medical record adoption being low and slow among physician practices, the 2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey found that 34.8 percent of office-based physicians reported using an EMR in 2007. This figure (significantly higher than the 17 percent reported by Harvard Medical School in 2008) represents a 19.2 percent increase since 2006 and a whopping 91.2 percent rise since 2001.

The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, began distinguishing from "any EMR" and "fully functional" EMR systems with additional questions beginning in 2005. The subset of physicians who reported using fully functional systems included 3.1 percent of respondents in 2006 and 3.8 percent in 2007.

The survey also examined several trends surrounding EMR adoption, revealing the following:

  • Practices with 11 or more physicians (73 percent) were significantly more likely to employ EMR than physicians in solo practice (20.6 percent).
  • HMO practices were more likely to use EMRs (86.1 percent) than community health center-owned practices (40 percent) or solo and group practices (31.4 percent). Specialty did not play a role.
  • Physicians in the West (43.1 percent) were more likely to use EMRs than physicians in Midwest (35.6 percent), South (35.1 percent) and Northeast (24.2 percent).
  • Physicians in metropolitan areas were more likely to use EMRs (87.8 percent) than physicians not in a metropolitan area (12.2 percent).

Researchers also asked physicians about their future EMR plans. In 2007, 25.2 percent of respondents said they planned to install a new EMR system or replace their current system within the next three years, and 13.7 percent reported that they might do so. Using these data, the authors projected that between 53.6 percent and 64.5 percent of office-based physicians will have implemented EMR systems by 2010.

To learn more:

- Read the CDC's full report
- Read this summary in Becker's Hospital Review