Study: Poor health IT planning could affect quality of care

Researchers ID five themes that could influence health IT success

Poorly planned health IT implementation could negatively affect patient care, according to a study in the American Journal of Managed Care.

For the study, University of California-San Francisco researchers conducted 118 interviews at seven Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals to identify factors that contributed to successful implementation of hospital-based IT systems.

The study examined how the implementation of computerized patient record systems and bar code medication administration systems affected inpatient care.

Study findings
Researchers identified five broad themes that could affect the process and success of health IT implementation, including equipment availability and reliability, implementation timelines, organizational stability and implementation team leadership, staff training, and workflow changes.

According to the findings, the success of IT implementation at the VA hospitals depended on:

  • The allocation of adequate resources for equipment and infrastructure; 
  • The availability of hands-on support and deployment of additional staff; 
  • The development of a gradual and flexible implementation approach; 
  • How the implementation team planned for setbacks and continued the implementation process; and 
  • Support for change from leaders and staff.

Although IT implementation generally resulted in long-term benefits in care quality, the researchers wrote that "[p]roblems that developed in the early stages of implementation tended to become persistent, and poor implementation can lead to patient harm" (Byers, CMIO, 4/2).

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