A comprehensive literature review prepared for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology by the RAND Corporation has found that the majority of new studies indicate that health I.T. "enabled significant gains in health care quality, but efficiency and safety were still the subjects of relatively little research."

The purpose of the literature review was to update previous systematic reviews focusing on the effects of health I.T. on key aspects of care, including health care quality, safety, and efficiency. "Unlike reviews conducted prior to the introduction of the federal Meaningful Use Incentive Programs, this review focused specifically on identifying and summarizing the evidence relating to the use of health I.T. as outlined in the Meaningful Use regulations," states the report.

The review identified 236 new studies meeting the eligibility criteria of assessing the effect of health I.T. on health care quality, safety, and efficiency in ambulatory and non-ambulatory care settings, of which approximately 77 percent of the studies reported positive or mixed-positive results.

"Our findings agree with previous health I.T. literature reviews suggesting that health I.T., particularly those functionalities included in the Meaningful Use regulation, can improve healthcare quality and safety," states the report. "The relationship between health I.T. and efficiency is complex and remains poorly documented or understood, particularly in terms of health care costs, which are highly dependent upon the care delivery and financial context in which the technology is implemented."

ONC recently updated its Health IT Dashboard with the results of the literature review, which includes new peer review literature published during the 2010 to 2013 timeframe. With ONC's data visualization, a clickable interactive tree map shows what Meaningful Use health IT functionalities have positive or negative impacts on health care outcomes, and users can browse through a sortable and interactive table of the 236 newer health IT studies to explore what the new research evidence shows regarding the relationship between health IT and quality, safety, and efficiency.

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