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TribBlog: Growing Number of Physicians Use e-Records

The number of Texas physicians who use electronic medical records has been on the rise for the last four years, according to a Texas Medical Association study.

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The Texas Tribune recently reported about the challenges doctors face transitioning from paper to digital medical records, and the efforts Texas universities and colleges are making to speed that process.

One question Emily Ramshaw's story asked was what exactly it will take for many private physicians to go digital. According to a Fall 2009 study from the Texas Medical Association, the number of those physicians jumped significantly over the last two years — in what looks to be a continuing trend.

The study found that 43 percent of doctors who responded to the survey were using electronic medical records in their practices in 2009, up from 33 percent in 2007 and 27 percent in 2005. Another 41 percent of 2009 respondents said they planned to implement electronic medical records soon.

Unsurprisingly, practices with multiple physicians and primary care facilities were more likely to report using electronic records. But even those physicians that have the capability to share their records with other offices were unlikely to do so. Only 21 percent of those offices reported sending health information to other hospitals.

Advocates for electronic medical records see sharing patient information between doctors' offices and hospitals as perhaps the greatest benefit of the technology, as it could alert doctors to prior health conditions or dangerous allergies.

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