Primary Care Teamwork and Electronic Health Records


There is growing consensus that there is an increasing need for enhanced teamwork if primary care practices are to be efficient and effective. This study, Electronic health records and support for primary care teamwork, examines how electronic health records (EHRs) facilitate teamwork, as well as what challenges they pose, and what practices do to overcome those.

This qualitative study was done in a selected subset of practices that were recognized as patient centered medical homes using the National Committee for Quality Assurance 2011 assessment tool. The study found that EHRs facilitate communication and task delegation through

  • instant messaging,
  • task management software, and
  • the ability to create evidence-based templates for symptom-specific data collection from patients by medical assistants and nurses.

Respondents felt that areas in which EHR functionalities were weakest and posed challenges to teamwork included

  • the lack of integrated care manager software and care plans in EHRs,
  • poor practice registry functionality and interoperability, and
  • inadequate ease of tracking patient data in the EHR over time.

While practices developed solutions for some of the challenges they encountered, they expressed a need for “more permanent vendor and policy solutions for other challenges.”

The authors state the following conclusions:

“EHR vendors in the United States need to work alongside practicing primary care teams to create more clinically useful EHRs that support dynamic care plans, integrated care management software, more functional and interoperable practice registries, and greater ease of data tracking over time.”