Objective: To evaluate GPs use of three major electronic patient record systems with emphasis on the ability of the systems to support important clinical tasks and to compare the findings with results from a study of the three major hospital-wide systems.
Methods: A national, cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted in Norwegian primary care. 247 (73%) of 338 GPs responded. Proportions of the respondents who reported to use the EPR system to conduct 23 central clinical tasks, differences in the proportions of users of different EPR systems and user satisfaction and perceived usefulness of the EPR system were measured.
Results: The GPs reported extensive use of their EPR systems to support clinical tasks. There were no significant differences in functionality between the systems, but there were differences in reported software and hardware dysfunction and user satisfaction. The respondents reported high scores in computer literacy and there was no correlation between computer usage and respondent age or gender. A comparison with hospital physicians' use of three hospital-wide EPR systems revealed that GPs had higher usage than the hospital-based MDs. Primary care EPR systems support clinical tasks far better than hospital systems with better overall user satisfaction and reported impact on the overall quality of the work.
Conclusion: EPR systems in Norwegian primary care that have been developed in accordance with the principles of user-centered design have achieved widespread adoption and highly integrated use. The quality and efficiency of the clinical work has increased in contrast to the situation of their hospital colleagues, who report more modest use and benefits of EPR systems.