Assessing the impact of a primary care electronic medical record system in three Kenyan rural health centers

William M. Tierney, John E. Sidle, Lameck O. Diero, Allan Sudoi, Jepchirchir Kiplagat, Stephen Macharia, Changyu Shen, Ada Yeung, Martin C. Were, James E. Slaven, Kara Wools-Kaloustian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Objective Efficient, effective health care requires rapid availability of patient information. We designed, implemented, and assessed the impact of a primary care electronic medical record (EMR) in three rural Kenyan health centers. Method Local clinicians identified data required for primary care and public health reporting. We designed paper encounter forms to capture these data in adult medicine, pediatric, and antenatal clinics. Encounter form data were hand-entered into a new primary care module in an existing EMR serving onsite clinics serving patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Before subsequent visits, Summary Reports were printed containing selected patient data with reminders for needed HIV care. We assessed effects on patient flow and provider work with time-motion studies before implementation and two years later, and we surveyed providers' satisfaction with the EMR. Results Between September 2008 and December 2011, 72 635 primary care patients were registered and 114 480 encounter forms were completed. During 2011, 32 193 unique patients visited primary care clinics, and encounter forms were completed for all visits. Of 1031 (3.2%) who were HIV-infected, 85% received HIV care. Patient clinic time increased from 37 to 81 min/visit after EMR implementation in one health center and 56 to 106 min/visit in the other. However, outpatient visits to both health centers increased by 85%. Three-quarters of increased time was spent waiting. Despite nearly doubling visits, there was no change in clinical officers' work patterns, but the nurses' and the clerks' patient care time decreased after EMR implementation. Providers were generally satisfied with the EMR but desired additional training. Conclusions We successfully implemented a primary care EMR in three rural Kenyan health centers. Patient waiting time was dramatically lengthened while the nurses' and the clerks' patient care time decreased. Long-term use of EMRs in such settings will require changes in culture and workflow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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