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HIT, Safety and Quality

By August 23, 2013Commentary

The Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality has had a lot of money to play with in recent years and used a substantial portion of it to study the use of health information technology to improve quality and safety.  A new report summarizes what has been learned from all those millions and millions of dollars that have been spent.  (AHRQ Report)   Of course, no point in summarizing all those lessons in one report, no, lets issue five reports, because since we issued five redundant sets of grants we might as well publish five redundant reports.  This one is on improving quality through clinician use of HIT in ambulatory care settings.  There were 24 grants in this area, covering four areas–providing patient-specific information, clinical knowledge and decision support; supporting clinical workflow; coordinating care; and understanding the impact of HIT on outcomes.  The projects tended to focus on medication management and chronic diseases.  The researchers in the projects tested various interventions which used HIT.  According to the report, out of all these projects collectively, and apparently vaguely, “several” showed improvement on process of care outcomes, and a few showed improvement on intermediate or end health outcomes.  Not clear how many and apparently most showed no improvement, maybe even made things worse.  Nonetheless, AHRQ understandably feels that these projects generated “significant progress” toward improving quality and safety.  Yep.

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