Transforming Medical Records Into an Electronic System in Saudi Arabia


Even though in the modern era of digital technologies, electronic medical records (EMR) are widely used all over the world, in Saudi Arabia, the majority of doctors still prefer a traditional system of medical documentation. More precisely, one of the surveys reveals that only 46.6 percent of healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia use EMR (AlSadrah, 2020). In spite of the fact that physicians feel comfortable about the traditional way of making medical records, it is necessary to implement EMR. That is because, in comparison with traditional ways of recording information on patients illnesses and prescribing medications, the EMR system has significantly more advantages.


The introduction of EMR not only makes it easier for physicians to access the result of patients’ analyses and their medical history wherever and whenever they need it but also improves the quality of the provided care. The primary reason to take the issue of EMR introduction seriously is the large number of medical errors. The survey conducted by Alshammari et al. (2021) reveals that within one year of observation, more than 4000 patients received a medical prescription with an error and, hence, purchased the wrong medication. EMR is an effective way to increase the accuracy of medical records and decrease the frequency of medical errors. Apart from that, access to EMR makes it possible for a doctor to make more precise diagnoses quicker. The present research paper discusses several reasons why EMR should be introduced more actively in Saudi Arabia and analyzes potential hindrances for this process.

Literature Review

The current literature review analyzes recent academic articles on the benefits of EMR and barriers that hinder its implementation. Only 52 percent of nurses in the hospitals of Saudi Arabia feel confident in using EMR (Abu Raddaha, 2018). What is more, more than 75 percent of respondents who participated in the study “indicated no prior experience with EMR systems” (Abu Raddaha, 2018, p. 112). In contrast, almost 90 percent of American physicians use EMR in their practice (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). Such a low rate of Saudi Arabian nurses familiar with EMR software is not the outcome of their conservatism and unwillingness to change. Instead, nurses realize that the application of EMR will improve the quality of care provided to patients and are willing to incorporate EMR in their medical practice (Aldosari et al., 2018). From this, it could be inferred that the problem stems from the lack of training or resistance of hospital administration to introduce EMR in hospitals.

Apart from the major advantages of EMR that have already been mentioned in the introduction, there are many other ones. For example, O’Donnell et al. (2018) claim that EMR also increases “efficiency in clinical workflows by facilitating structured data sharing across organizational and geographic boundaries” (p. 2). What is more, EMR data could also be used to support healthcare planning and assist patients in controlling their records independently (O’Donnell et al., 2018). From societal and organizational perspectives, the installation of EMR could help in reducing costs and “improving compliance at both legal and regulatory levels” (Lambley & Kuziemsky, 2019, p. 149). Therefore, the benefits of EMR go beyond caring about the quality of medical services provided to patients.

Several barriers explain the low popularity of EMR in Saudi Arabia. According to the study conducted by Alqahtani et al. (2017), the primary reasons for the low share of hospitals that use EMR are the computer illiteracy of the medical staff members and the absence of comprehension of EMR’s usefulness. Concerning computer illiteracy, Yehualashet et al. (2021) note that it is a primary reason why doctors and nurses mistrust EMR and feel unsatisfied with the idea of using it. Other widespread reasons are a firm belief that it is immensely complicated to use this system and the lack of support from the administrative and IT personnel (Alqahtani et al., 2017). AlSadrah (2020) agrees with the statements of Alqahtani et al. (2017) and argues that many hospitals in Saudi Arabia are not adapted for the utilization of EMR. More precisely, either rural and small hospitals lack computers, or the local employees are not trained enough to use them for work (AlSadrah, 2020). Other significant hindrances towards EMR’s implementation include regulatory obstacles, concerns about patients information privacy, and bureaucracy (Alanzi, 2018). Dutta and Hwang (2020) also emphasize that introducing this software is costly and requires workflow changes. From this, one could conclude that additional training of healthcare personnel and specific changes on the legal level will significantly assist in popularizing EMR across hospitals of Saudi Arabia.


The aim of the present research paper is to reveal the reasons why EMR is unpopular in Saudi Arabia and examine what could be done to increase the number of hospitals that use this software.


One of the objectives of this research paper is to discover what nurses, doctors, and administrative personnel of hospitals think of EMR. Another objective of the study is to formulate the most effective measures that would assist hospitals in installing this software.


Why is it crucial to transform medical records into an electronic system in Saudi Arabia? What could be done to facilitate this process?


The present research focuses on the phenomenon of EMR in Saudi Arabia and will be conducted by applying both quantitative and qualitative methods. To collect the required data, the author needs to analyze and interpret the views of nurses, doctors, and hospitals’ leaders who use EMR in their practice and express retrieved data and information numerically. The analysis of quantitative data will be performed through the deductive approach. This step aims to reveal how specific healthcare facilities benefit from the utilization of this software. As for the qualitative part of the study, the author will examine sources on the experience of countries where EMR are commonly used to see how EMR was introduced at the very beginning. The inferences from qualitative data will be retrieved inductively.

Design Settings

The participants of the study, i.e., nurses, doctors, and leaders, are employees of hospitals that successfully use EMR for no less than one year. The study observes ten hospitals and analyzes the views of one leader and six healthcare professionals in each of these settings. The qualitative part of the study is based on the examination of no less than ten scholarly papers that explain how and why EMR was successfully introduced in Western countries.


Due to the limitation of time, the sample includes 70 respondents who take a position of a nurse, doctor, or administrative staff member of a hospital and use EMR for one year or more. The author is not concerned with the respondents’ age, gender, and level of education.

Sampling Method

To select the participants of the research, the author applies the stratified sampling method. The essence of this method lies in dividing the population into several strata based on their position in a hospital and then selecting respondents via simple random sampling. The three strata of the observed population are nurses, doctors of any specialization, and administrative staff members.

Data Collection

The author collects data by distributing questionnaires containing multiple-choice questions, open- and close-ended questions, and scaling questions. The questionnaires will be created in such a program as Google Forms and sent to the participants via e-mails. The utilization of digital versions of questionnaires allows the researcher to economize time and retrieve visualization of the distribution of answers automatically. As for the secondary data for the qualitative part of the study, the author will search for scholarly papers in digital libraries and various published sources.

Process of Data Collection

The data collection process consists of several steps. Firstly, the author will develop the first version of a questionnaire and conduct a pilot study to see whether the participants might have issues with understanding of questions and whether other questions and answers should be added. Secondly, the author will contact the participants to ensure that they are ready to take part in the study. Thirdly, the author will send questionnaires to the selected participants. Finally, the retrieved data will be analyzed and visualized. It is expected that the entire data collection process will take no longer than two months. Data on the experience of implementation of the EMR in hospitals will be derived from secondary sources. The preference will be given to the articles related to the experience of the US and European countries that were published during the last five years.

Data Analysis

The insights on the topic will be derived from the participants answers via descriptive analysis. This type of analysis enables scholars to understand which answers are the most and the least popular ones. The diagnostic analysis will be conducted to comprehend the major ways of introducing EMR in Saudi Arabian hospitals.


Prior to filling in the distributed questionnaire, the selected participants will be informed of the purpose of the study and will be asked to sign an informed consent. The personal information of the participants will not be disclosed, and the citations of their answers will be anonyms. The present research corresponds with the principle of honesty and respects the intellectual property rights of other scholars. The author is entirely responsible for the outcomes of this research and guarantees respect and the absence of participants discrimination. The author of the present study faces no conflict of interest.


The present research paper investigates the importance of transforming medical records into an electronic system in Saudi Arabia. The critical aim of this study is to explain the advantages of utilization of this software and propose several solutions on how to facilitate the introduction of EMR in local hospitals. To achieve these goals, the author will survey 70 employees who take a position of a nurse, doctor, or administrative staff member in one of 10 hospitals that use EMR for more than one year. In addition to that, the author will analyze the publications that unclose the experience of successful EMR implementation in Western nations. The present study is topical because the percentage of hospitals that use EMR software is low nowadays. The current research will assist in understanding why it is necessary to transform medical records into an electronic system and how this goal could be achieved.


Abu Raddaha, A. H. (2018). Nurses’ perceptions about and confidence in using an electronic medical record system. Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare, 27(2), 110-117. Web.

Alanzi, T. (2018). mHealth for diabetes self-management in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Barriers and solutions. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 11, 535–546. Web.

Aldosari, B., Al-Mansour, S., Aldosari, H., & Alanazi, A. (2018). Assessment of factors influencing nurses’ acceptance of electronic medical record in a Saudi Arabia hospital. Informatics in Medicine Unlocked, 10, 82-88. Web.

Alqahtani, A., Crowder, R., & Wills, G. (2017). Barriers to the adoption of EHR systems in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia: An exploratory study using a systematic literature review. Journal of Health Informatics in Developing Countries, 11(2), 1-23.

AlSadrah, S. A. (2020). Electronic medical records and health care promotion in Saudi Arabia: An overview. Saudi Medical Journal, 41(6), 583–589. Web.

Alshammari, T. M., Alenzi, K. A., Alatawi, Y., Almordi, A. S., & Altebainawi, A. F. (2021). Current situation of medication errors in Saudi Arabia: A nationwide observational study. Journal of Patient Safety, 1-8. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Electronic Medical Records/Electronic Health Records (EMRs/EHRs). Web.

Dutta, B., & Hwang, H. G. (2020). The adoption of electronic medical record by physicians: A PRISMA-compliant systematic review. Medicine, 99(8), 1-7. Web.

Lambley, J., & Kuziemsky, C. (2019). A tactical framework for EMR adoption. Healthcare Management Forum, 32(3), 148–152. Web.

O’Donnell, A., Kaner, E., Shaw, C., & Haighton, C. (2018). Primary care physicians’ attitudes to the adoption of electronic medical records: A systematic review and evidence synthesis using the clinical adoption framework. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 18(1), 1-16. Web.

Yehualashet, D. E., Seboka, B. T., Tesfa, G. A., Demeke, A. D., & Amede, E. S. (2021). Barriers to the adoption of electronic medical record system in Ethiopia: A systematic review. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 14, 2597. Web.

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