Harvard study says computers don’t save hospitals money

Hospital computer systems are often built for administrators, not doctors

Computerworld – A Harvard Medical School study that looked at some of the nation’s “most wired” hospital facilities found that computerization of those facilities hasn’t saved them any money or improved administrative efficiency.

The recently released study evaluated data on 4,000 hospitals in the U.S over a four-year period and found that the immense cost of installing and running hospital IT systems is greater than any expected cost savings. And much of the software being written for use in clinics is aimed at administrators, not doctors, nurses and lab workers. 

The study comes as the federal government prepares to begin dispensing $19 billion in incentives for the health industry to roll out electronic health records systems. Beginning in 2011, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act will provide incentive payments of up to $64,000 for each physician who deploys an electronic health records system and uses it effectively.

The problem “is mainly that computer systems are built for the accountants and managers and not built to help doctors, nurses and patients,” the report’s lead author, Dr. David Himmelstein, said in an interview with Computerworld.

For the original Harvard study see American Journal of Medicine

For the whole Computerworld article see Harvard study: Computers don’t save hospitals money

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