The implementation of electronic health record systems may not be enough to significantly improve health quality and reduce costs. In the April 2010 issue of Health Affairs, researchers from the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report finding that currently implemented systems have little effect on measures such as patient mortality, surgical complications, length of stay and costs. The authors note that greater attention may need to be paid to how systems are being implemented and used, with the goal of identifying best practices.
"We are still in the early days of electronic health record adoption, and there's little evidence for how best to implement the technology to make the greatest gains," says Catherine DesRoches, DrPh, of the Mongan Institute, who led the study. "Hospitals may not see the benefit of these systems until they are fully implemented, or it may take many years for benefits to become apparent."
Yet a nation living beyond its means is throwing money at the idea anyway?
In recent years several initiatives have been taken to encourage adoption of electronic health records. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized approximately $30 billion in grants and incentives to support electronic health record implementation. But while several earlier studies suggested that specific aspects of an electronic health record – particular computerized physician order entry – could improve the quality and efficiency of care, those studies analyzed data from hospitals with customized systems and dedicated quality improvement staff. The current study is the first to examine the effects of electronic systems in a nationally representative group of hospitals.
I bet computers would make a more positive impact if medical expert systems were used more extensively for diagnosis and in choosing ideal courses of treatment.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2010 April 06 11:44 PM Economics Health|