Electronic medical record systems at academic health centers: advantages and implementation issues

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Abstract

The growth of managed care has fueled expectations for a more coordinated delivery of clinical services and a reduction of unnecessary utilization. Among the most important issues that constrain these expectations is the transfer of medical information. Electronic medical record (EMR) systems appear to offer substantive advantages over paper records for both containing costs and improving the quality of care. However, incorporation of EMR systems into practice settings has languished. Among the barriers to implementation are software problems of codification and entry of data, security issues, a dearth of integrated delivery systems, reluctant providers, and prohibitive costs. The training programs of academic health centers (AHCs) are optimal environments for testing and implementing EMR systems. AHCs have the expertise to resolve remaining software issues, the components necessary for integrated delivery, a culture for innovation in clinical practice, and a generation of future providers that can be acclimated to the requisites for computerized records. The authors critically review these and other issues of implementing EMR systems at AHCs and propose four necessary steps for financing their implementation.

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