Information technology in health care

Doctor conducting research

information technology (IT) has the potential to improve the

quality, safety, and efficiency of health care. Diffusion of IT in
health care is generally low (varying, however, with the application
and setting) but surveys indicate that providers plan to increase

their investments. Drivers of investment in IT include the
promise of quality and efficiency gains. Barriers include the cost and
complexity of IT implementation, which often necessitates significant
work process and cultural changes. Certain characteristics of the health
care market—including payment policies that reward volume rather than quality, and a fragmented delivery system—can also pose barriers to IT adoption. Given IT’s potential, both the private and public sectors have engaged in numerous efforts to promote its use within and across health care settings. Additional steps could include
financial incentives (e.g., payment policy or loans) and expanded efforts to standardize records formats, nomenclature,
and communication protocols to enhance interoperability. However, any policy to stimulate further
investment must be carefully considered because of the possibility of unintended consequences.


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