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Cost-Savings Promise of Health IT Not Reached, Report Says

January 10, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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According to analysis from members of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based non-profit research organization, the RAND Corporation, the cost-savings coming from the installation of health IT systems such as EMRs has not been reached because of slow adoption, and a lack of inter-connectivity and ease-of-use. The authors of the report, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Health Affairs, say this cost-savings potential will not be realized until providers “re-engineer their processes to focus on the benefits” the systems can achieve.

"The failure of health information technology to quickly deliver on its promise is not caused by its lack of potential, but rather because of the shortcomings in the design of the IT systems that are currently in place," Art Kellermann, M.D., the study's senior author and the Paul O'Neill Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at RAND, said in a statement.

"We believe the productivity gains of health information technology are being delayed by the slow pace of adoption and the failure of many providers to make the process changes needed to realize the potential," he added.

Originally, a team of RAND researchers published an analysis in 2005 which said health IT systems could save the U.S. $81 billion annually, with improvements in the delivery and efficiency of healthcare. However, the authors of the current report say there are questions about the safety and efficiency of health IT systems.

Kellermann and Spencer S. Jones, Ph.D., co-author of the report and associate information scientist at the RAND Corporation, offer numerous suggestions as how to improve this inefficiency. They say interoperability should be improved as health information stored in one IT system should be retrievable by other systems, They say this is “particularly important in emergency situations.”

In addition, the authors say, patients should have ready access to their electronic health information, and health IT systems must be engineered to aid the work of clinicians, not be disruptive. They say systems should be intuitive, so they can be used by busy healthcare providers without extensive training.



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