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Inform Prim Care. 2008;16(2):129-37.

Readiness for electronic health records: comparison of characteristics of practices in a collaborative with the remainder of Massachusetts.

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  • 1Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 133 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



The Massachusetts e-Health Collaborative (MAeHC) is implementing electronic health records (EHRs) in physicians' offices throughout three diverse communities. This study's objective was to assess the degree to which these practices are representative of physicians' practices statewide.


We surveyed all MAeHC physicians (n=464) and compared their responses to those of a contemporaneously surveyed statewide random sample (n=1884).


The survey questionnaire assessed practice characteristics related to EHR adoption, prevailing office culture related to quality and safety, attitudes toward health information technology (HIT) and perceptions of medical practice.


A total of 355 MAeHC physicians (77%) and 1345 physicians from the statewide sample (71%) completed the survey. MAeHC practices resembled practices throughout Massachusetts in terms of practice size, physician age and gender, prevailing financial incentives for quality performance and HIT adoption and available resources for practice expansion. MAeHC practices were more likely to be located in rural areas (9.5% vs 4.4%, P=0.004). Physicians in both samples responded similarly to six of seven self-assessments of the office practice environment for quality and safety. Internet connections were more prevalent among MAeHC practices than across the state (96% vs 83%, P<0.001), but similar proportions of MAeHC physicians (83%) and statewide physicians (86%) used the internet daily (P=0.19).


MAeHC is implementing EHRs and health information exchange among communities with physicians and practices that appear generally representative of Massachusetts. The lessons learned from this pilot project should be applicable statewide and to other states with large numbers of physicians in small office practices.

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