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Two recent federal reports strongly suggest that health information technology (HIT) can improve the delivery of care in a variety of settings. But the reports, published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), confirm that technology can’t do the job alone.
Combining HIT with patient-centered care principles is a winning recipe for improved care, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Evidence-Based Practice Center. JHU researchers examined 327 studies addressing health outcomes for patients with a range of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer.
In most cases, they found that clinical or process outcomes were better when interventions combined specific elements of patient-centered care with HIT tools like clinical decision aids, shared decision-making tools, telemedicine or telemonitoring systems. The report’s findings indicate that technology by itself doesn’t improve care, says HIT Consultant MaryAnne Sterling. Patient-centered care requires HIT, she says. By the same token, HIT has to be part of a larger care strategy. “It’s not just about plugging in the technology,” Sterling told American Medical News. “Plugging it in is the first of many steps.”
MedPAC’s report to Congress focused on the need for technology implementers to enhance their HIT solutions “so that all pertinent information can be shared across providers,” according to FierceEMR. In order to get the most out of HIT, the report says, care settings must: