Computer-based patient records, although an area of active research, are not in widespread use. In June 1992, 38% of Dutch general practitioners had introduced computer-based patient records. Of these, 70% had replaced the paper patient record with a computer-based record to retrieve and record clinical data during consultations.
Possible reasons for the use of computer-based patient records include the nature of Dutch general practice and the early and active role of professional organizations in recognizing the potential of computer-stored patient records. Professional organizations issued guidelines for information systems in general practice, evaluated available systems, and provided postgraduate training that prepares physicians to use the systems. In addition, professional organizations successfully urged the government to reimburse general practitioners part of the expenses related to the introduction of computer-based patient records.
Our experience indicates that physicians are willing and able to integrate information technology in their practices and that professional organizations can play an active role in the introduction of information technology.