Electronic Health Record "Super-Users" and "Under-Users" in Ambulatory Care Practices

Published in: The American Journal of Managed Care, Volume 24, Number 1 (January 2018), pages 26-31

Posted on RAND.org on May 18, 2018

by Juliet Rumball-Smith, Paul G. Shekelle, Cheryl L. Damberg

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Objectives

This study explored variation in the extent of use of electronic health record (EHR)-based health information technology (IT) functionalities across US ambulatory care practices. Use of health IT functionalities in ambulatory care is important for delivering high-quality care, including that provided in coordination with multiple practitioners.

Study Design

We used data from the 2014 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Analytics survey. The responses of 30,123 ambulatory practices with an operational EHR were analyzed to examine the extent of use of EHR-based health IT functionalities for each practice.

Methods

We created a novel framework for classifying ambulatory care practices employing 7 domains of health IT functionality. Drawing from the survey responses, we created a composite "use" variable indicating the extent of health IT functionality use across these domains. "Super-user" practices were defined as having near-full employment of the 7 domains of health IT functionalities and "under-users" as those with minimal or no use of health IT functionalities. We used multivariable logistic regression to investigate how the odds of super-use and under-use varied by practice size, type, urban or rural location, and geographic region.

Results

Seventy-three percent of practices were not using EHR technologies to their full capability, and nearly 40% were classified as under-users. Under-user practices were more likely to be of smaller size, situated in the West, and located outside a metropolitan area.

Conclusions

To achieve the broader benefits of the EHR and health IT, health systems and policy makers need to identify and address barriers to full use of health IT functionalities.

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