Health Information Technology Not Keeping its Promise
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Health Information Technology is in need of a serious checkup. Despite wide investments nationally in electronic medical records and related tools, the cost-saving promise of health information technology has not been reached; the systems deployed are neither interconnected nor easy to use, according to a new RAND Corporation analysis.
The potential of health information technology to both improve patient care and reduce spending are unlikely to be realized until health care providers reengineer their processes to focus on the benefits that can be achieved.
"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 Dr. Art Kellermann, study's senior author and the Paul O'Neill Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
A team of RAND researchers in 2005 published a widely cited analysis that the 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 health care.
"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," Kellermann said.
Kellermann and co-author Spencer S. Jones conclude that a compelling vision is needed to guide future investments in health information technology. They believe that health information stored in IT systems must be retrievable by others, including doctors and hospitals that are a part of other health systems.
They are also argue that health information technology systems should be engineered to aid the work of clinicians, not hinder it. Systems should be intuitive, so they can be used by busy health care providers without extensive training. Doctors and other health care providers should be able to easily use systems across different health care settings, much as consumers easily drive various makes and models of automobiles.
Kellermann and Jones’ hope for the future is that one day, patients will have ready electronic access to their health information, much as consumers now have access to their bank accounts.
SOURCE: RAND, January, 2013