Tags: electronic | health | tech

Electronic Health Records Found Lacking

Thursday, 10 Jan 2013 09:51 AM


Billions of dollars are being spent to convert paper medical records to electronic health records in an effort to improve quality of care and cut costs. But a new study by the RAND Corp. has found the revolution in health information technology is falling far short of those cost-saving, care-boosting goals.
The reason: The systems deployed so far are neither interconnected nor easy to use.
"The failure of health information technology to quickly deliver on its promise is not caused by its lack of potential, but rather because of the shortcomings in the design of the IT systems that are currently in place," said Art Kellermann, M.D., a policy analyst at the nonprofit research organization who led the study, published in the journal Health Affairs.
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"We believe the productivity gains of health information technology are being delayed by the slow pace of adoption and the failure of many providers to make the process changes needed to realize the potential."
Dr. Kellermann said the potential of health information technology to improve patient care and reduce spending are unlikely to be realized until healthcare providers “reengineer their processes to focus on the benefits that can be achieved.”
A 2005 RAND study projected widespread adoption of health information technology could eventually save the United States more than $81 billion annually by improving the delivery and efficiency of healthcare. But the new study found mixed results on the safety and efficiency of such technology, while annual healthcare spending in the U.S. has ballooned to at least $800 billion annually.
Dr. Kellermann and co-author Spencer S. Jones offered the following recommendations:
• Health information stored in one IT system should be retrievable by others, including doctors, hospitals, and (especially) emergency rooms that are a part of other health systems.
• Patients should have ready access to their electronic records, just as consumers now have access to their bank accounts.
• Patients should be able to view their records and share them with all healthcare providers.
• Health information technology systems must be engineered to aid the work of clinicians, not hinder it, so they can be used by busy healthcare providers without extensive training.
• Doctors and other healthcare providers should be able to easily use systems in different settings, just as consumers can easily drive various makes and models of automobiles.
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The revolution in health information technology is falling short of its cost-saving, care-boosting goals, research shows.
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