[Excerpt] An important element in president-elect Obama's economic stimulus proposal is his plan to invest a significant proportion of federal dollars in installing electronic medical records (EMR) in U.S. healthcare institutions. In emphasizing the need for EMR, Obama is following the advice of numerous healthcare experts who have pointed out that the healthcare sector lags behind other industries in the use of computer technology. They believe the widespread use of EMR would help reduce medical errors, control the costs of healthcare, and lead to significant improvements in the quality of care Americans receive.
In this paper we present preliminary results of an ongoing study of the introduction of EMR in 20 nursing homes in the New York City area. Although most observers believe EMR holds great promise for the improvement of healthcare, in fact recent studies have found mixed evidence regarding the effect of EMR on patient outcomes. The evidence we have gathered to date suggests that whether EMR has beneficial effects on the costs and quality of healthcare depends very much on the purposes and objectives nursing home managers and administrators intend to achieve through its use. That is, management strategy and style, we believe, strongly influences healthcare outcomes associated with technological innovation.