The researchers concluded that the immense cost of installing and running hospital IT systems is greater than any expected cost savings. Much of the software being written for use in clinics is aimed at administrators, not doctors, nurses and lab workers. Additionally, as currently implemented, hospital computing might modestly improve process measures of quality but does not reduce administrative or overall costs.
The researchers also found no reliable data support claims of cost savings or dramatic quality improvement from electronic medical records.
The researchers did acknowledge that the modest quality advantages associated with computerization were difficult to interpret since the quality scores reflect processes of care rather than outcomes. Access to more information technology may merely improve scores without actually improving care by facilitating documentation of allowable exceptions.
From the paper:
"We used a variety of analytic strategies to search for evidence that computerization might be cost-saving. In cross-sectional analyses, we examined whether more computerized hospitals had lower costs or more efficient administration in any of the 5 years. We also looked for lagged effects, that is, whether cost-savings might emerge after the implementation of computerized systems. We looked for subgroups of computer applications, as well as individual applications, that might result in savings. None of these hypotheses were borne out. Even the select group of hospitals at the cutting edge of computerization showed neither cost nor efficiency advantages. Our longitudinal analysis suggests that computerization may actually increase administrative costs, at least in the near term."Himmelstein, D., Wright, A., & Woolhandler, S. (2009). Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A National Study The American Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.09.004 Sphere: Related Content