Despite increasing adoption rates of electronic health records and other health information technology systems, a new RAND Corporation analysis argues that our knowledge about their value is not advancing.
Researchers from the RAND Corporation, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit organization, say that studies have not done an adequate job evaluating health IT over longer periods of time to see its cost and benefit to patients. Most studies, RAND researchers say, have only looked at health IT adoption over a short period of time, which ignores downstream benefits.
“About a decade ago, RAND researchers estimated the potential for health information technology to reduce health care costs. Subsequently, the American health system invested a vast amount of money to speed adoption of health information technology. It is now time to thoroughly evaluate the pluses and minuses of those investments,” states Robert Rudin, lead author of the study and an associate policy researcher at RAND. “We propose a new set of standards for evaluation that will produce results likely to prove valuable to policymakers.”
Those standards would include a checklist examining the context and characteristics of health IT that are important to interpret results. Rudin and colleagues are seeking studies that determine “winners” and “losers” when health information technology is adopted.
The analysis was published in American Journal of Managed Care.