Report: Health IT Fosters Improved Patient-Centric Care

The use of health information technology (IT) and patient-centered principles play a role in the overall improvement of care, according an Agency for Helathcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) report. Published June 2012 through the AHRQ-developed Johns Hopkins University Evidence-Based Practice Center (EPC), the report found “substantial evidence exists” that health IT applications featuring patient-centered care components have a positive effect on healthcare outcomes.

Researchers focused on the impact of health IT on patient-centered care in a variety of areas, including care processes, clinical outcomes, effective communication, information accessibility, and providers’ ability to respond to patient needs.

Data for the report came from previously published articles. EPC researchers electronically searched for articles published since 1998, identifying 327 articles that were reviewed and included in the final results of the report. Research revealed that in the majority of cases reviewed, outcomes improved when health IT was used to support patient-centered care methods. Telemedicine tools implemented for patient self-management, for example, were linked to healthcare process outcome improvements, according to the report’s executive summary.

Each type of health IT application studied, from decision support to telemedicine to tools for patient self-management, had resulted in positive and often significant improvements in process outcomes.

In addition to reviewing areas where health IT supported patient-centered care, researchers also identified the health IT barriers to and facilitators for delivering patient-centered care in an organization. Sample barriers included:

  • Lack of usability
  • Lack of computer literacy
  • Lack of sufficient health IT training
  • Workflow compatibility issues

Sample facilitators for the effective use of health IT included:

  • Usability
  • Perceived value
  • Efficiency
  • Availability of support

The study is part of AHRQ’s effort to leverage EPC for the development of evidence reports and technology assessments that can help organizations improve the quality of healthcare provided.

For more information on EPC and to access additional research reports developed through the program, visit the informational AHRQ Web page.

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