New provisional research indicates that health IT can help hospitals focus on quality care improvement, reduce mortality rates and boost patient satisfaction, FierceHealthIT reports.
The provisional study -- which was published in the journal BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making -- is based on data from a survey of 401 U.S. hospitals.
Boston University researchers considered the combined effect of using several health IT tools, including:
- Bar coding technology;
- Computerized provider order entry systems;
- Electronic health records;
- Medication management systems;
- Picture archival and communication systems; and
- Radio frequency identification technology.
The researchers noted that previous studies that have found health IT had little effect on quality often assessed a single technology.
The provisional study found improvement in four out of six areas measured.
According to the researchers, "It is likely that (health information technologies) are enablers of quality practices and clinical (quality improvement) strategies through enhanced communication, documentation, information transfer, performance monitoring, and error prevention, thus, leading to improved quality performance."
However, researchers noted that physicians and nurses were less certain than hospital quality managers that health IT had improved patient care.
Researchers said that although improvements in mortality rates and patient satisfaction are indisputable, it is possible that quality managers believed quality improved simply because they had implemented certain technologies.
However, they argued that overall the study demonstrates that implementing health IT is worth the expense and challenges (Bird, FierceHealthIT, 9/27).