Objective—To estimate the proportion of independent small animal veterinary medical practices in Massachusetts that use electronic veterinary medical records (EVMRs), determine the purposes for which EVMRs are used, and identify perceived barriers to their use.
Procedures—213 of 517 independent small animal veterinary practices operating in Massachusetts were randomly chosen for study recruitment. One veterinarian at each practice was invited by telephone to answer a hardcopy survey regarding practice demographics, medical records type (electronic, paper, or both), purposes of EVMR use, and perceived barriers to adoption. Surveys were mailed to the first 100 veterinarians who agreed to participate. Practices were categorized by record type and size (large [≥ 5 veterinarians], medium [3 to 4 veterinarians], or small [1 to 2 veterinarians]).
Results—84 surveys were returned; overall response was 84 of 213 (39.4%). The EVMRs were used alone or together with paper records in 66 of 82 (80.5%) practices. Large and medium-sized practices were significantly more likely to use EVMRs combined with paper records than were small practices. The EVMRs were most commonly used for ensuring billing, automating reminders, providing cost estimates, scheduling, recording medical and surgical information, and tracking patient health. Least common uses were identifying emerging infectious diseases, research, and insurance. Eleven veterinarians in paper record–only practices indicated reluctance to change, anticipated technological problems, time constraints, and cost were barriers to EVMR use.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated EVMRs were underutilized as a tool for tracking and improving population health and identifying emerging infectious diseases. Efforts to facilitate adoption of EVMRs for these purposes should be strengthened by the veterinary medical, human health, and public health professions.