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Encephale. 2010 Jun;36(3):236-41. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2009.05.004. Epub 2009 Oct 24.

[Establishment of an electronic medical record in a psychiatric hospital: evolution of professionals' perceptions].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Unité d'information médicale en psychiatrie, service de santé publique et d'information médicale, pôle de santé publique, hôpital de la Timone, Assistance publique-Hôpitaux-de-Marseille, 264, rue Saint-Pierre, 13385 Marseille cedex 5, France.



The potential benefits of the application of an electronic medical record (EMR) in medical care are well recognized. However, if these benefits are to be accomplished, professionals must adopt and utilize EMR as a part of their practice. The aim of this study was to assess the evolution of the health care professionals' opinions of EMR and their use on a period of 1 year in a French Public Psychiatric Hospital.


Our institution is a 204-bed psychiatric hospital, employing 328 professionals and comprising three sectors: six units of complete hospitalisation (102 beds), one unit of week hospitalisation (15 beds), one unit of emergency (seven beds) and one unit of night hospitalisation (15 beds). Three extrahospital structures include the day hospitalisation (65 places), the medicopsychological centres (CMP) and the part-time therapeutic reception centres (CATTP) of the three sectors.


We conducted face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with health care professionals of a public psychiatric hospital on two occasions: 1 month after the establishment of the EMR (t0) and one year later (t1). All the solicited people agreed to participate in the investigation. The interviews were conducted until no new ideas emerged in the content analysis performed in real time, comprising 60 care professionals at t0 (10 psychiatrists, 42 nurses and eight paramedical professionals) and 55 at t1 (six psychiatrists, 42 nurses and seven paramedical professionals). Content analysis was performed by two members of the steering committee who were skilled in textual analysis. A descriptive analysis was also performed. The variables were described by proportions and means. The proportions were compared using the Chi-squared test or Fisher exact test where appropriate. A two-tailed p-value of greater than 0.05 was considered to indicate statistical significance. Statistical analyses were carried out using SPSS version.


The proportion of EMR use remained stable and high (respectively 97% in 2007 and 93% in 2008). However, there was an increase in the proportion of pages used in 2008 (77% of the pages) compared to 2007 (58%) (p=0.02). The analysis of interviews highlighted some elements which explained the "under-utilization" of the EMR: "the record contains too many pages", "complete all the pages is sometimes hard", "It's difficult to have a global vision of the EMR". These difficulties are reported in an equivalent way between 2007 and 2008. For the "good users", the EMR had real strengths: "the EMR contains information recorded in a synthetic and precise way"; "the EMR provides complete and rapid information on the patient". There is an improvement of positive perceptions between 2007 and 2008; for example 38% of respondents in 2008 (against 18% in 2007) appreciated the multidisciplinary nature of the EMR and 51% in 2008 (against 40%) in 2007 appreciated the "centralisation of data". The general opinion on EMR had not changed between 2007 and 2008: 70% of professionals had a favourable opinion. Similarly, we did not find statistical difference between 2007 and 2008 on the perception of the impact of EMR on the quality of relationships between professionals and between professionals and patients. The impact on the quality of care remained high. In 2007, 72% of professionals reported that EMR could have a positive impact on the care of patients against 85% in 2008 (non significant). The main impact was the improvement of the continuity and coordination of care. The proportion of professionals who did not consider that EMR could deteriorate impact on professionals-patients relationships was not statistically different between in 2007 (44%) and 2008 (56%). Sixty-six percent of professionals in 2008 against 50% in 2007 did not consider that EMR deteriorates relationships between professionals (p=0.06). However, the rates of adverse opinions remained high in 2008 on the impact of EMR on relationships in general. This was directly related to the "loss of time in completing the EMR". However, in analysing the verbatim, there was a change of potential consequences of this loss of time. "The lack of availability for patients" was less expressed than "the loss of oral communication between professionals" which was reported more frequently.


This study allowed us to identify the residual problems which each hospital could face, 1 year after setting up an EMR. This preliminary work constitutes the first step in the development of a measurement tool of the use and perception of the EMR by health care professionals.

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