An analysis of studies on healthcare information technology found that the literature shows evidence that IT delivers major quality benefits by facilitating increased adherence to care guidelines, improved disease surveillance and reduced medication errors. The report, by RAND Corp. and published online by the Annals of Internal Medicine, said roughly one-fourth of the published, peer-reviewed research came from work at just four "benchmark institutions" -- the Veterans Affairs Department; Brigham and Women's Hospital/Partners Healthcare System, Boston; the Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis; and LDS Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City. All four have home-grown IT systems, developed incrementally and rolled out over long periods of time. Only 15 of the 256 articles reviewed by RAND contained some data on costs, and only three had cost data on implementation and maintenance. Just nine articles concerned "multifunctional, commercially developed systems." "For providers considering a commercially available system installed as a package, only a limited body of literature is available to inform decisionmaking," RAND said. Download a PDF of the report. -- by Joseph Conn
IT quality benefits clear, cost studies scarce: RAND
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