Electronic medical records are not associated with improved documentation in community primary care practices

Am J Med Qual. 2011 Jul-Aug;26(4):272-7. doi: 10.1177/1062860610392365. Epub 2011 Jan 25.


The adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) in ambulatory settings has been widely recommended. It is hoped that EMRs will improve care; however, little is known about the effect of EMR use on care quality in this setting. This study compares EMR versus paper medical record documentation of basic health history and preventive service indicators in 47 community-based practices. Differences in practice-level documentation rates between practices that did and did not use an EMR were examined using the Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric test and robust regression, adjusting for practice-level covariates. Frequency of documentation of health history and preventive service indicator items were similar in the 2 groups of practices. Although EMRs provide the capacity for more robust record keeping, the community-based practices here do not use EMRs to their full capacity. EMR usage does not guarantee more systematic record keeping and thus may not lead to improved quality in the community practice setting.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Community Health Centers*
  • Documentation / methods
  • Documentation / standards*
  • Documentation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Young Adult