If electronic medical records are so great, why aren't family physicians using them?

J Fam Pract. 2002 Jul;51(7):636-41.


Objective: The chasm theory of marketing states that fundamental differences exist between early adopters of technology and the mainstream marketplace, making it difficult for technology to transition to the mainstream market. We investigated possible differences in attitudes and beliefs about electronic medical records (EMRs) between current EMR users (early market) and nonusers (mainstream market).

Study design: Cross-sectional mail survey.

Population: Active members in the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians 2000-2001 membership database (N = 1328).

Outcomes measured: Differences in attitudes, beliefs, and demographic characteristics of EMR users and nonusers.

Results: The overall return rate was 51.7%; 14.4% of respondents currently use an EMR. Electronic medical record users were more likely to practice in urban areas or to be hospital-based and reported seeing fewer patients. Nonusers were less likely to believe that (1) physicians should computerize their medical records; (2) current EMRs are a useful tool for physicians; (3) EMRs improve quality of medical records and decrease errors; and (4) it is easy to enter data into current EMRs. Nonusers were more likely to believe that paper records are more secure and more confidential than EMRs. Both users and nonusers believed that current EMRs are too expensive.

Conclusions: A chasm exists between EMR users and nonusers regarding issues that affect EMR implementation, including necessity, usefulness, data entry, cost, security and confidentiality. To reach full implementation of EMRs in family medicine, organizations should use these data to target their research, education, and marketing efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Computers*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indiana
  • Male
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data