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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 2, Issue 2, Pages 121-142
Research Article

Prevalence of Electronic Health Records in U.S. Hospitals

Jean M. Abraham,1 Jeff S. McCullough,1 Stephen T. Parente,2 and Martin S. Gaynor3

1Division of Health Policy & Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
2Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
3H. John Heinz III College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Received 1 July 2010; Accepted 1 January 2011

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This work provides prevalence estimates for electronic health record (EHR) systems within U.S. hospitals in 2008. Specifically, we identify the set of information technology (IT) applications that provide the technological pre-conditions for hospitals' achievement of meaningful use. We estimate a set of descriptive and multivariate analyses to identify the organizational attributes that are significantly related to EHR adoption. In addition to considering IT applications individually, we consider the cumulative adoption by hospitals. Our results suggest that most U.S. hospitals continue to lack the technological pre-conditions for achieving meaningful use. Approximately 72% of hospitals had adopted three or fewer of these key applications. Furthermore, we observe some evidence of complementarities between IT and other production inputs. Finally, ownership status, system affiliation, and geographic location are all significantly related to IT adoption. These results provide a useful benchmark for pending IT investments resulting from health reform.