Objective: Physician practices may adopt and use electronic prescribing (eRx) in response to mandates, incentives, and perceived value of the technology. Yet, for the most part, diffusion has been limited and geographically confined, and even when adopted, use of eRx in many practices has been low. One explanation for this phenomenon is that decision-makers in the practices possess different technological viewpoints (frames) related to eRx and these frames have formed the basis for the adoption decision, expectations about the technology, and patterns of use. In this study eRx technological frames were examined.
Design: Focus groups, direct observation, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with physicians, practice managers, nurses, and other medical staff.
Measurements: Focus groups were observed, taped, transcribed, and analyzed to reveal themes. These themes guided the observational visits and subsequent interviews. A triangulation process was used to confirm the findings.
Results: Seven frames emerged from the qualitative analysis ranging from positive to neutral to negative: (1) eRx as an efficiency and effectiveness enhancing tool; (2) eRx as the harbinger of new practices; (3) eRx as core to the clinical workflow; (4) eRx as an administrative tool; (5) eRx: the artifact; (6) eRx as a necessary evil; and (7) eRx as an unwelcome disruption.
Conclusion: Frames provide a unique perspective within which to explore the adoption and use of eRx and may explain why perceptions of value vary greatly. Some frames facilitate effective use of eRx while others impose barriers. Electronic prescribing can be viewed as a transitional technology on the path to greater digitization at the physician practice level. Understanding the impact of technological frames on the effectiveness of eRx use may provide lessons for the implementation of future health information technology innovations.