Health IT adoption by federally qualified health centers has led to significant improvements in the quality of care delivered, according to a study published in the journal BMC Health Services Research, Government Health IT reports.
The researchers involved in the study were from;
- Columbia University;
- Southern Illinois University; and
- The University of Alabama.
For the study, researchers examined 776 federally qualified health centers using data from the Commonwealth Fund's 2009 National Survey of Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Researchers evaluated the centers' level of health IT adoption and measured how often patients received:
- Discharge summaries;
- Reminders for preventive care; and
- Timely appointments for specialty care.
The researchers also used the Commonwealth Fund survey to evaluate the centers on:
- Access to care;
- Care coordination;
- Quality reporting; and
- Ability to serve as a patient-centered medical home.
Study Findings, Comments
The study found an overall positive link between health IT use and care quality at the federally qualified health centers. The authors noted that the centers potentially could achieve more care quality benefits by adopting advanced IT systems and demonstrating meaningful use of electronic health record systems.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
According to the researchers, future studies should "focus on specific aspects of IT that are more likely to lead to improvements in quality of care and ultimately clinical outcomes" (Brino, Government Health IT, 2/1).