Creating EHR Networks in the Safety Net

Publication Date: April 2008

Publisher: California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Julie V. Murchinson; Joseph D. Ray; Christine E. Sison

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


Most community clinics and health centers have yet to make the transition to electronic health records (EHRs), despite mounting evidence that they can help raise the quality of medical care, increase patient safety, improve efficiency, and produce significant cost savings. While studies have found that the primary barrier to EHR adoption is cost, research also shows that successful implementation requires investments beyond the price of the software, including significant amounts of planning and preparation, optimizing the system after installation, and training for key personnel. Small, independent health care providers often lack either the financial or staffing resources to fund and sustain such efforts. One solution is the EHR network--an information technology partnership focused on community clinics and health centers that provides services to support the adoption of EHRs and other applications. This issue brief explores the network approach to EHRs and its potential to increase adoption rates among these crucial providers of safety-net medical services. In developing the brief, Manatt Health Solutions employed a variety of primary and secondary research techniques, including interviews with clinic members of EHR networks and conversations with industry and academic experts. The authors conclude that a network approach can provide California's community clinics and health centers with the infrastructure and support necessary to efficiently implement EHR systems.