I am a general practitioner in England, and in the U.K., virtually 100% of general practitioners hold their patients' records electronically.
There is some discrepancy as far as I can see around the meaning of an EHR: For a U.K. general practitioner you have a full electronic health record when you no longer have to keep any paper records. Looking at the situation in the U.S. and elsewhere, it would appear that an EHR is more a matter of recording healthcareso primarily an administrative record.
Computer technology became available and affordable in the 1980s, and interest in keeping patient records on computers started as soon as the new technology was available in many countries. As far as I am aware, the U.K. is the only country where there is such a degree of computerization among primary-care physicians. I suspect this is because of the system of primary-care provision in the National Health Servicethe fact that there was an early and vocal group of doctors in the Royal College of General Practitioners championing e-records, and an early recognition by the Department of Health of the benefits of searchable electronic records to micromanagement of the NHS.
My practice is paperless and has been since 1997. We have been computerized since 1992.
If you have patients who stay with you a long time, there is a lot to be said for electronic patient records. I still have memories of trying to find information in the paper records of some frequent consulters; it was not easy. They are brilliant for prescribing (especially repeat prescribing) and, if decision support is incorporated, avoiding problems with drug interactions.
It does, of course, depend on the system you are using and the environment in which you are working.
Mary HawkingGeneral practitionerDunstable, England To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.