The role and utilization of electronic medical records in ambulatory otolaryngology


  • Presented at the Triological Society Combined Sections Meeting, Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.A., January 24–26, 2013.

  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Send correspondence to William B. Armstrong, MD, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Chair, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of California, Irvine, 101 The City Dr. S., Bldg. 56, Ste. 500, Orange, CA 92868-3201. E-mail:



To estimate the usage of electronic medical records (EMRs) in ambulatory otolaryngology and to compare the usage trends between otolaryngologists and physicians in other specialties.

Study Design

Cross-sectional analysis of data taken from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS).


The 2005 to 2010 NAMCS datasets were analyzed for whether storage of patient records in otolaryngology practices were completely electronic, partly electronic, or paper based. The trend of EMR utilization in the studied period was compared between otolaryngology and other specialties. Furthermore, the usage of different EMR functions (e.g., ordering tests) was also evaluated.


The proportion of otolaryngology practices with complete or partial EMR usage increased from 27.0% in 2005 to 2006, to 48.5% in 2009 to 2010 (P < .001), and was projected to increase to 80.3% in 2015 to 2016. Otolaryngologists had variable usage of different functions of EMRs. Neither the overall use of EMRs nor their different functions were statistically different between otolaryngologists and other specialists. Further exploration of data revealed that 34.0% of otolaryngologists intended to install new EMR systems within the following years. Finally, 39.9% of otolaryngologists had plans to apply for Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments, of which 92.3% expected to start meaningful use in 2011.


The increasing utilization of EMRs in ambulatory otolaryngology is an important marker of progress in compliance with health care reform. Despite this upward trend, however, <50% of ambulatory offices had adopted EMRs in 2009 to 2010, and it remains to be seen how the field will adapt to the evolving challenge of EMR adoption and implementation. Laryngoscope, 123:2418–2422, 2013