Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to comprehensively characterise the current use of electronic health records (EHRs) and personal digital assistants (PDAs) among family physicians in Florida; and to compare family physicians with other doctors with respect to the functions commonly used on their EHR and PDA systems.
Methods: A postal survey was sent to family physicians (n=2076) and other doctors with a clear and active licence in Florida (total n=14 921). To examine factors among family physicians related to EHR and PDA use, binary logistic regression modelling techniques were utilised. Chi-square analysis was used to compare EHR and PDA functions between family physicians and other doctors.
Results: A total of 4203 responses, of which 756 were from family physicians, were available for the current study (28.2% overall response rate). EHR use among family physicians was significantly related to large practice size, urban location and young physician age, after controlling for confounders. Likewise, PDA usage among family physicians was independently associated with male gender and younger physician age. Additionally, even though no differences in overall EHR adoption were found, family physicians, when compared with other physicians, were significantly more likely to be using a more robust set of EHR functions. This included allergy and medication lists, diagnosis, problem lists, patient scheduling and educational materials, preventive services reminders and access to reference material.
Conclusions: Even though family physicians utilise many EHR and PDA functions more commonly than other physician groups, the overall level of EHR adoption among family physicians remains low. Until more barriers to the use of EHR are minimised, the goals of the Future of Family Medicine Report to broadly implement EHR and other health IT functions will not be fully realised.