Electronic medical records (EMRs) have the potential to improve and streamline the quality and safety of patient care. Harnessing the full benefits of EMR implementation depends on the utilisation of advanced features, defined as "mature usage." At present, little is known about the maturity of EMR usage by allied health professionals (AHPs).
To examine current maturity of EMR use by AHPs and explore perceived barriers to mature EMR utilisation and optimisation.
AHPs were recruited from three health services. Participants completed a 27-question electronic questionnaire based on the EMR Adoption Framework, which measures clinician EMR utilisation (0 = paper chart, 5 = theoretical maximum) across 10 EMR feature categories. Interviews were conducted with both clinicians and managers to explore the nature of current EMR utilisation and perceived facilitators and barriers to mature usage.
Questionnaire responses were obtained from 192 AHPs. The majority of questions (74%) showed a mean score of <3, indicating a lack of mature EMR use. Pockets of mature usage were identified in the categories of health information, referrals and administration processes. Interviews with 18 clinicians and managers revealed barriers to optimisation across three themes: (1) limited understanding of EMR opportunities; (2) complexity of the EMR change process and (3) end-user and environmental factors.
Mature usage across EMR feature categories of the EMR Adoption Framework was low. However, questionnaire and qualitative interview data suggested pockets of mature utilisation.
Achieving mature allied health EMR use will require strategies implemented at the clinician, EMR support, and service levels.