Costs and benefits of health information technology

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The article discussed a literature review of the value of discrete Health information technology (HIT) functions and systems in various healthcare settings. The authors found that evidence suggests HIT can improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, quality, and safety by making best practice guidelines and evidence databases immediately available to clinicians, and by making computerized patient information available throughout a health care network, but little is known about the factors required for community practices to successfully implement off-the-shelf systems. [1]


Leap Frog Group, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Research and Quality ODPHP and the Agency for Healthcare Quality (AHRQ) [1] requested an evidence report on costs and benefits of HIT systems to evaluate the evidence regarding the value of discrete HIT functions and systems in healthcare settings. Key questions were related to:

  • What are the costs and benefits of interoperability for providers and payors and what is the critical information required by decision makers
  • What is the framework for developing level/bundles for functionality by payer/purchase
  • What analytic methods can be used to produce evidence of cost and benefits for providers and payors
  • What are the barriers that providers and systems encounter in implementation of EHR system


The authors conducted electronic searches of PubMed, Cochrane Registries and Cochrane Database of Reviews of effectiveness (DARE) and private industry articles published starting from 1995. There were 856 studies screened and 256 were included in the final analysis.


Of the 256 studies the categories were not mutually exclusive and were categorized as: [1]

  • 156 related to decision support,
  • 84 assessed the Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)
  • 30 were about CPOE (categories are not mutually exclusive)
  • 124 assessed the effects on outpatient or ambulatory setting
  • 82 assessed use in the hospital or inpatient setting
  • 97 studies used a randomized design
  • 11 were other controlled clinical trails
  • 33 used a pre-post design
  • 20 used a time series
  • 17 were case studies with a concurrent control

Of the 211 hypothesis-testing studies reviewed, 82 contained cost data.


Based on the reviews the authors concluded HIT can help transform the delivery of health care, make safer, more effective, and more efficient. They noted some organizations have realized major gains through the implementation of multifunctional, interoperable HIT systems. The authors also concluded widespread implementation of HIT has been limited by a lack of generalizable knowledge of what types of HIT systems and what implementation methods to utilize. This includes what the cost and benefits of health information technology.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Shekelle, P. Martin, S., Keeler, E. (2006) Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology: Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments, No. 132.