Study: Health IT doesn't improve outcomes in nursing homes

The use of health IT does not have a measurable impact on the outcomes of nursing home residents, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Aging and Health. Though the study is small, it raises the question of whether hospitals and healthcare systems can reduce readmissions by working more closely with nursing homes.

The study involved 761 patients at 10 nursing homes in the New York metropolitan area, half of which had a comprehensive electronic health record. The researchers conducted personal assessments of the residents in all of the nursing homes both prior to and nine months after implementing their EHRs.

The researchers concluded that the use of health IT didn't have any effect on the patients' clinical, functional and quality of care indicators. It was, however, associated with more behavioral issues.

On the other hand, only 7 percent of the residents in the homes that introduced health IT said they felt it resulted in a worsening of care. Sixty-two percent said the care had remained the same, and 31 percent felt it had improved.

Earlier this year, a review article found that health IT didn't improve quality in ambulatory care practices, either. But former ONC chief David Blumenthal assailed that study, saying that its methodology was flawed and that it didn't consider improvements in EHRs since 2007. Later, ONC released its own study showing that the majority of studies on the impact of health IT were positive.

To learn more:
- see the study abstract
- read the InformationWeek Healthcare story