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May 25, 2009

Health Care Information Technology: A Cloud Around the Silver Lining?

Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(10):924-926. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.79

There are high hopes that the use of information technology (IT) will solve many current problems in health care while simultaneously reducing cost. These hopes likely fueled allocation of billions of dollars to health care IT from the now-signed economic stimulus bill (HR 1, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). Providing some support to these hopes, a recent Archives study by Amarasingham et al1 revealed associations between greater automation of information systems and reductions at the hospital level in mortality, complications, and costs.1 This need for effective information access is most apparent in inpatient medical services, which serve an aging population with increasingly complex medical conditions.2 In this context, skilled clinicians readily admit that they cannot always predict the clinical impact of adding new medications or procedures. The growing but incompletely realized hope is that computerized provider order entry (CPOE) and electronic health records (EHRs) will lead to safer and more effective care and decision making by providing guidance and critical information in these complex situations.

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