Study Assesses Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology
The use of health information technology (HIT) has been promoted as having tremendous promise in improving the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, quality, and safety of medical care delivery. Investigators in this study conducted a systematic review of the literature, commissioned by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and performed in 2005, to assess the published evidence regarding the costs and benefits of clinical HIT systems. These data were updated with a second literature review covering 6/04 through 6/07, allowing some overlap with the previous search. Evidence then was summarized into five categories: 1) continuing results from HIT leaders, 2) evidence from commercial electronic health record systems, 3) increase in HIT systems designed to be accessed directly by patients, 4) studies of implementation and/or barriers to implementation, and 5) cost and cost-benefit and effectiveness.
Findings show a proliferation of patient-focused HIT applications, many of which are designed for use by patients without significant oversight by healthcare providers. In addition, many more relevant publications were found in the second literature search compared to the first, which may be a reflection of the greater overall interest in the potential for HIT to transform healthcare. However, what did not change was the lack of meaningful data on the cost-benefit of HIT implementation. Investigators believe that accelerating the adoption of HIT will require greater public-private partnerships, new policies to address the misalignment of financial incentives, and a more robust evidence base regarding HIT implementation.
Goldzweig C, Towfigh A, Maglione M, and Shekelle P. Costs and benefits of health information technology: New trends from the literature. Health Aff (Millwood) 2009 Mar-Apr;28(2):w282-93. Epub 2009 Jan 27.
Drs. Goldzweig and Shekelle are part of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.