Thirumalai Sriram

Advanced IT for Electronic Medical Records Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

Government standards are too high and the risk of failure is too great if health care providers rush to provide electronic medical records and get it wrong, shows research by Sriram Thirumalai. 

June 06,  2016

By Elaine Cole

“Health care delivery is one of the most critical and complex services in the world; therefore, developing and optimizing electronic medical record capability requires an informed and tailored approach,” assistant professor of information systems Sriram Thirumalai said.

Thirumalai has focused his research on health care operations. In “IT Capability for Health Care: Is More Better?” he and his colleagues looked at acute health care providers in the U.S. to determine the depth, breadth and effectiveness of electronic medical record (EMR) capability.

“EMR is the ability to leverage health IT to enable and link the clinical processes for an effective and efficient delivery of care to patients,” Thirumalai explained.

Health care providers are faced with an increasing push to develop electronic medical record capability.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of health information technologies that promise to do just that. But how effective are those technologies?

Thirumalai was motivated by two questions for his research into electronic medical records: 1) What are the operational performance implications of increasing EMR capability? 2) Should health care service providers commit to higher stages of EMR capability?

Thirumalai’s research found that health care providers’ operational performance is positively related to increased high-tech EMR capability, but the complexity of committing to higher stages of EMR capability requires a thoughtful, measured approach.

“If they go too fast, they may not reap the potential operational benefits of advanced EMR capability,” Thirumalai said. 

“This echoes the concerns of health care providers to take a more gradual approach. It gives credence to their concerns that the proposed government standards are too high and the risk of failure is too great,” he said.

For more information on Dr. Thirumalai:,_Sriram.aspx.

“IT Capability for Health Care Delivery: Is More Better?” A. Dey, K.K. Sinha and Sriram Thirumalai, Journal of Service Research, 2013.