With fewer than one in 10 doctors making full use of electronic health records and as few as 5 percent of hospitals using one form of them, the U.S. health care industry is way behind in adopting new systems that can improve patient care and reduce medical mistakes, according to a new report co-authored by Harvard researchers.
“We are pitifully behind where we should be. We must find ways to get more physicians to embrace this technology if we are to make major strides in improving health care quality,” said study co-author David Blumenthal, the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Medicine, professor of health care policy, and director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute for Health Policy.
Health care institutions have long adopted computerized records for financial and administrative systems, but have been slower to adopt electronic health records for the clinical side of their operations even though those systems have the potential to reduce medication mistakes, unnecessary tests, and inappropriate care; to cut costs; and to improve patient monitoring.
President George W. Bush has called on U.S. health care institutions to adopt electronic systems for a majority of patients by 2014 as a way to make health care delivery more efficient and more effective.
The report, “Health Information Technology in the United States: The Information Base for Progress,” was drafted by a team of researchers from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, and George Washington University. It was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the federal government’s National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.