Providers are seeing benefits from increased utilization of health information technology, according to data from the American Hospital Association.

Primarily, the most significant benefits include improvements in patient safety and quality of healthcare, as well as support for new models of care.

That’s the finding of two briefs recently released by the AHA based on results from the 2016 AHA Annual Survey Information Technology Supplement for community hospitals, collected from November 2016 to April 2017.

“Hospitals and health systems continue to make progress leveraging technology to improve patient safety and quality of care,” said Chantal Worzala, AHA vice president for health IT and policy. “We are also seeing that those engaged in new models of care are driving greater adoption of advanced health IT functions.”

According to Worzala, health IT systems “make it easier for patients to do things like request prescription refills online, and view and download clinical information” and “enable patients to play a more informed, active role in their health and healthcare.”

AHA's Chantal Worzala

Also See: AHA lauds growth in patient access to electronic records

Hospitals and health systems are increasingly using electronic health records and other HIT tools to capture clinical information—such as physician and nursing notes, test results, prescriptions, and problem lists—as well as for the monitoring and analysis of patient status indicators and outcomes.

“Ninety-seven percent of hospitals and health systems report that their health IT systems allow electronic clinical documentation of discharge summaries, up from 81 percent in 2012; similarly, the ability to electronically document diagnostic test results increased from 82 percent to 92 percent over the same time period,” finds the AHA. “Electronic clinical documentation of physician notes has increased dramatically with 95 percent of hospitals and health systems reporting that capability, up from 59 percent in 2012.”

In addition, Worzala contends that these technologies are also “enabling hospitals and health systems to move from volume to value, empowering them to offer higher quality, more coordinated care and address broader population health concerns.”

Results of the AHA survey show that 41 percent of responding hospitals indicated that they participated in new models of care, up from 19 percent of respondents in 2012.

“While the promise of health IT for quality and safety improvement has begun to materialize, there is still more to achieve,” concludes the AHA.

The Trendwatch brief on using HIT to improve patient safety and healthcare quality can be found here, and the brief on supporting new models of care can be found here.

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