A new report from HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS), shows that the top 100 hospitals in Reuters' annual survey for 2009 and 2010 were likely to be at a higher stage of health IT implementation than U.S. hospitals as a whole.
The research firm contends that this finding shows a beneficial relationship between health IT and hospital quality and safety.
"The very strong correlation between Thomson Reuters' 100 Top Hospitals and hospitals at higher levels on the [HIMSS Analytics scale] shows the benefits of deploying advanced clinical applications in the delivery of health care in the U.S. hospitals," John Hoyt, executive vice president of HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement announcing the results.
HIMSS Analytics tracks the health IT capabilities of U.S. hospitals on a seven-stage scale. In stage 1, for example, hospitals have installed lab, radiology and pharmacy information systems. In stage 7, they have implemented a complete electronic health record, including clinical decision support, computerized physician order entry, bar code medication administration, nursing and physician documentation and have the ability to send continuity of care documents to other providers.
Reuters selects its top 100 hospitals each year based on a formula that includes their performance on clinical care, patient safety, patient perception of care, operational efficiency and financial stability.
HIMSS Analytics found that the average health IT stage of Top 100 hospitals was 3.6 in 2009 and 3.8 in 2010. By comparison, U.S. hospitals as a whole had mean scores of 2.8 in 2009 and 2.9 in 2010.
The study also shows that 14 percent of Top 100 hospitals were in stage 5 or higher in 2009, compared to 6 percent of all U.S. hospitals. In 2010, 21 percent of the awarded hospitals were in stage 5 or higher, versus nearly nine percent of all hospitals.
The report does not, however, look at other factors besides the use of advanced information systems that might have helped the top 100 hospitals attain their status. Perhaps hospitals that are better managed and have greater resources, for example, are more likely to have implemented complete EHRs. And maybe the Top 100 institutions place a greater emphasis on quality and safety than many other hospitals do, regardless of whether they have EHRs.
In a survey earlier this year, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) found that better performing practices were more likely to have EHRs than were less-successful medical groups. But Todd Evenson, director of survey operations for MGMA, told InformationWeek Healthcare that that doesn't necessarily show there is a correlation between EHR adoption and practice success--even though better performing groups that had EHRs were positively affected by them.
Further, hospitals that have implemented advanced EHRs have done so with the specific purpose of improving clinical quality and patient safety and have used at least one method to measure a return on their EHR investment, according to a survey conducted by HIMSS and The Advisory Board last month.
Nearly 80 percent of the respondents reported benefits multiple core measures, including reduced adverse drug events (73 percent) and quality improvement in venous thromboembolism (73 percent) or stroke (70 percent).