Title

Implementing an electronic medical record in a family medicine practice: communication, decision making, and conflict.

Publication/Presentation Date

7-1-2005

Abstract

PURPOSE: Electronic medical record (EMR) systems offer substantial opportunities to organize and manage clinical data in ways that can potentially improve preventive health care, the management of chronic illness, and the financial health of primary care practices. The functionality of EMRs as implemented, however, can vary substantially from that envisaged by their designers and even from those who purchase the programs. The purpose of this study was to explore how unique aspects of a family medicine office culture affect the initial implementation of an EMR.

METHODS: As part of a larger study, we conducted a qualitative case study of a private family medicine practice that had recently purchased and implemented an EMR. We collected data using participant observation, in-depth interviews, and key informant interviews. After the initial data collection, we shared our observations with practice members and returned 1 year later to collect additional data.

RESULTS: Dysfunctional communication patterns, the distribution of formal and informal decision-making power, and internal conflicts limited the effective implementation and use of the EMR. The implementation and use of the EMR made tracking and monitoring of preventive health and chronic illness unwieldy and offered little or no improvement when compared with paper charts.

CONCLUSIONS: Implementing an EMR without an understanding of the systemic effects and communication and the decision-making processes within an office practice and without methods for bringing to the surface and addressing conflicts limits the opportunities for improved care offered by EMRs. Understanding how these common issues manifest within unique practice settings can enhance the effective implementation and use of EMRs.

Volume

3

Issue

4

First Page

307

Last Page

311

ISSN

1544-1717

Disciplines

Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences

PubMedID

16046562

Department(s)

Department of Family Medicine, Department of Family Medicine Faculty

Document Type

Article