Benefits and Costs of Electronic Medical Records: The Experience of Mexico’s Social Security Institute

Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are increasingly used in developing countries to improve quality of care while increasing efficiency. There is little systematic evidence, however, regarding EMRs’ benefits and costs. This case study documents the implementation and use of an EMR system at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS). Three EMR systems are now in operation for primary care, outpatient and inpatient hospital care. The evidence suggests that the primary care system has improved efficiency of care delivery and human resources management, and may have decreased incidence of fraud. The hospital systems, however, have lower coverage and are less popular among staff. The greater success of the primary care system may be due to greater investment, a participatory development process, an open workplace culture, and software appropriately tailored to the workflow. The two hospital EMR systems that were implemented were SICEH and IMSS VistA. SICEH was implemented in 70 IMSS hospitals, while the VistA System was implemented in 58 IMSS hospitals.

This very informative study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was prepared by Sarah Humpage. It was published in June 2010. There are many valuable lessons learned that other countries should pay attention to as they move forward with their own plans.