There is a positive association between the adoption of health information technology and its effect on medical outcomes in terms of efficiency or effectiveness.

That’s the conclusion of a new study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research that analyzed the current literature on the subject over the last five years.

Researchers queried the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature and Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online by PubMed databases for peer-reviewed publications. Studies from CINAHL and PubMed that defined an HIT intervention and a corresponding effect on medical outcomes stated in terms of efficiency or effectiveness were eligible for selection. Ultimately, 37 studies were chosen out of 3,636 papers for the review.

At least one improved medical outcome as a result of HIT adoption was identified in 81 percent of the research studies, while no statistical difference in outcomes was identified as a result of HIT in 19 percent of included studies.

“Healthcare providers will continue to be incentivized to adopt HIT as policy makers respond to quality, and safety concerns and reimbursement methods transition toward value-based purchasing,” according to researchers. “Providers, consumers and policy makers alike stand to benefit from the further proliferation of HIT. Our research aligns with previous work that identified improvements achieved as the result of the adoption of HIT.”

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“A strong majority of the literature shows positive effects of HIT on the effectiveness of medical outcomes, which positively supports efforts that prepare for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use,” concludes the study.

Stage 3 of Meaningful Use is all about HIT and medical outcomes, according to Clemens Scott Kruse, assistant professor and graduate programs director at Texas State University’s School of Health Administration.

Clemens Scott Kruse
Clemens Scott Kruse

“The final rule also established Stage 3 in 2017 and beyond, which focuses on using (Certified EHR Technology) to improve health outcomes,” says Kruse, who was lead author on the study.

The JMIR article points out that only one study in the review of literature included health information exchange. “More research is needed to identify the outcomes associated with the adoption of HIT systems that are capable of information exchange,” state the authors.

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