Healthcare IT: making care better or worse?
Reposted. Original post on 10 December 2005.
Of course, computerised systems, by improving patient safety, improve outcomes. No doubt about that is there? Supporters of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) assure us that is the case.
So we wouldn’t expect to find a drugs order entry system—one of the mainstays of the Care Records Service (CRS)—associated with increased mortality rates. But a study in the American publication “Pediatrics” found just that.
“Unexpected Increased Mortality After Implementation of a Commercially Sold Computerized Physician Order Entry System” describes a retrospective analysis of mortality in the Children's Hospital of Pittsburg for 13 months before implementation and for 5 months after it. Mortality rates increased significantly after implementation.
The study concludes this is an unexpected finding—it may have been due to delays in treatment. The study recommends that mortality rates are monitored post go-live.
Improvements do not arise by simply switching on IT systems. Inexperienced users and the rigour forced by computerised-systems may slow processes initially. Therefore, it is essential that IT-system benefits are rigourously identified, monitored and realised--many pay lip service to this, few practice it.