Perceived value of electronic medical records in community health services: a national cross-sectional survey of primary care workers in mainland China Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective: To evaluate the degree to which electronic medical records (EMRs) were used in primary care and the value of EMRs as perceived by primary care workers in China. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 2719 physicians (n = 2213) and nurses (n = 506) selected from 462 community health centres across all regions of mainland China except for Tibet. Regional differences in the responses regarding the functionality of existing EMR systems and the perceived value of EMRs were examined using Chi-square tests and ordinal regression analyses. Results: Less than 59% of the community health centres had adopted EMRs. More than 89% of the respondents believed that it was necessary to adopt EMRs in primary care. Of the existing EMR systems, 50% had access to telehealth support for laboratory, imaging or patient consultation services. Only 38.4% captured data that met all task needs and 35.4% supported referral arrangements. “Management of chronic conditions” was voted (66%) as the top preferred feature of EMRs. Higher levels of recognition of the value of EMRs were found in the relatively more developed eastern region compared with their counterparts in other regions. Conclusions: Rapid EMR adoption in primary care is evident in mainland China. The low level of functionality in data acquisition and referral arrangements runs counter to the requirements for “management of chronic conditions”, the most preferred feature of EMRs in primary care. Regional disparities in the realised value of EMRs in primary care deserve policy attention.

publication date

  • November 17, 2020