More than three-fourths of studies on health IT have found that technology provides at least some positive impact on patient care, but the studies themselves need improvement, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's new literature review, prepared by the RAND Corporation.
The 145-page report updates previous reviews on the effects of health IT on patient care. This is the first review to focus specifically on identifying and summarizing the evidence relating to the use of health IT outlined in the Meaningful Use regulations.
The review of literature, from January 2010 to August 2013, found that 77 percent of the studies meeting the eligibility criteria reported positive or mixed positive results; studies on safety and quality reported more positive results than those on electronic health record efficiencies. The researchers also found that the effect of health IT was influenced by the particulars of the IT system used, the implementation process and the context in which the IT was implemented.
The review found that research on health IT is "expanding rapidly," but that such studies still suffer from methodology and reporting problems that limit their usefulness.
"The relationship between health IT and efficiency is complex and remains poorly documented or understood, particularly in terms of healthcare costs, which are highly dependent upon the care delivery and financial context in which the technology is implemented," the report authors concluded. "Studies of health IT must be designed, conducted, and reported in ways that allow stakeholders to understand study results and how they can replicate or improve on those results."
The literature review mirrors other studies that have expressed concern about the quality of EHR research itself affecting the outcomes of studies and skewing the results.
To learn more:
- read the literature review (.pdf)