Although some studies have cast doubt on the benefits of electronic health records, a new analysis published in Health Affairs finds that the implementation of health IT has had an overall positive effect on health care providers, Government Health IT reports.
For the analysis, current and former staff members of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT surveyed 154 peer-reviewed articles published between 2007 and 2010 (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 3/8). Researchers looked at how health IT affects access to care, efficiency, effectiveness of care, patient satisfaction and other factors (Smith, National Journal, 3/9).
The study authors acknowledged two forms of bias in the study:
- Negative results are not reported as often as positive results; and
- A meta-analysis like this study considers all studies equally, regardless of sample size or design of the study (Perera, Fierce Government IT, 3/9).
Of the 154 studies analyzed, researchers found that 92% reached conclusions indicating that health IT has a positive effect on patient care.
Researchers, Officials Weigh In
Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin, who led the team of researchers, said the benefits of health IT "are beginning to emerge in smaller practices and organizations, as well as in large organizations that were early adopters" (National Journal, 3/9).
National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal, who helped write the study, said the study extends the existing literature on health IT "beyond the few large systems that were the source of most information on the record for health information technology and looks at it in a much more representative set of provider settings" (Government Health IT, 3/8).
He added that the widespread participation in federal health IT initiatives could be considered "an extraordinary expression on the part of our nation's doctors and hospitals of commitment to this new enterprise" (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/8).
CMS Administrator Donald Berwick said in a statement that the study's findings are "very significant in helping to confirm that our nation has made the right choice in moving aggressively toward adoption of health information technology" (National Journal, 3/9).