HIT or Miss: the application of health care information technology to managing uncertainty in clinical decision making

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ObjectiveTo discuss the usefulness of health care information technology (HIT) in assisting care providers minimize uncertainty while simultaneously increasing efficiency of the care provided.Study designAn ongoing study of HIT, performance measurement (clinical and production efficiency) and their implications to the payment for care represents the design of this study. Since 2006, all Maryland hospitals have embarked on a multi-faceted study of performance measures and HIT adoption surveys, which will shape the health care payment model in Maryland, the last of the all-payor states, in 2011.MethodsThis paper focuses on the HIT component of the Maryland care payment initiative. While the payment model is still under review and discussion, ‘appropriateness’ of care has been discussed as an important dimension of measurement. Within this dimension, the ‘uncertainty’ concept has been identified as associated with variation in care practices. Hence, the methods of this paper define how HIT can assist care providers in addressing the concept of uncertainty, and then provides findings from the first HIT survey in Maryland to infer the readiness of Maryland hospital in addressing uncertainty of care in part through the use of HIT.ResultsMaryland hospitals show noteworthy variation in their adoption and use of HIT. While computerized, electronic patient records are not commonly used among and across Maryland hospitals, many of the uses of HIT internally in each hospital could significantly assist in better communication about better practices to minimize uncertainty of care and enhance the efficiency of its production.

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