Limited Information Technology for Patient Care in Physician Offices

Publication Date: September 2004

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Marie C. Reed; Joy M. Grossman

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


Evidence of physicians’ use of information technology (IT) to support patient care has been sketchy and anecdotal to date. However, new findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) show wide variation in information technology adoption across physician practices, particularly by physician practice size. In 2001, nearly 60 percent of physicians in traditional practice settings—primarily solo or relatively small group practices where the vast majority of Americans receive care—reported that their practice used information technology in no more than one of the five following clinical functions: obtaining treatment guidelines, exchanging clinical data with other physicians, accessing patient notes, generating treatment reminders for the physician’s use and writing prescriptions. Highest levels of IT support for patient care were found in staff- and group-model health maintenance organization (HMO) practices, followed by medical school faculty practices and large group practices. Overall rates of information technology adoption may have increased since 2001, but the variation in IT adoption by practice setting is unlikely to have changed.