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Selected research from leading health care experts whose findings have a direct bearing on public policies effecting medical progress. Research is chosen based on its quality and relevance by the Medical Progress Today editorial staff.

Selected Research

"Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology"
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 4-11-06

This study, from the AHRQ, finds that while the adoption of health information technology (HIT) improves the quality of patient care, HIT gains have been concentrated in large health care organizations that have the expertise and funding to create, staff, and monitor HIT systems from the ground up. The challenge now is to find ways to encourage HIT in smaller health care settings, like physicians offices and hospitals.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a report today acknowledging that while health information technology has been shown to improve quality of care for patients, most health care providers need more information about how to implement these technologies successfully. AHRQ is helping to fill this gap with findings from more than 100 projects across the country. These projects make up AHRQ's $166 million health IT initiative.

The report, Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology, is a synthesis of studies that have examined the quality impact of health IT as well as the costs and organizational changes needed to implement health IT systems. This report reviews scientific data about the implementation of health IT to date, as documented in studies published through 2003. It does not project future health care benefits or savings, in contrast to other reports.

The authors conclude that scientific reviews have shown significant improvements in the quality of health care utilizing health IT systems. However, these successes have occurred primarily within large health care systems that created their own health IT systems and devoted substantial commitment and resources to these efforts. AHRQ's initiative is developing data needed about how to put health IT to work in more common health care settings such as physicians' offices and hospitals.

"HIT has the potential to enable a dramatic transformation in the delivery of health care, making it safer, more effective, and more efficient," the report concludes. "However, widespread implementation of HIT has been limited by a lack of generalizable knowledge about what types of HIT and implementation methods will improve care and manage costs for specific health organizations."

The full report is available here.



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