Healthcare information technology has not saved hospitals money, report says
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Despite claims of significant cost savings, so far implementation of healthcare information technology in hospitals “hasn't saved a dime,” according to a new report from researchers at Harvard Medical School.
In the most extensive review of healthcare IT implementation to date, Harvard researchers looked at data for more than 4,000 hospitals between 2003 and 2007 to determine the effects of computerization on quality and efficiency. Not only did they not find any cost savings, they discovered that, as facilities improved their computer networks, administrative costs actually rose slightly to 24.9% in 2007, up from 24.4% in 2003. The biggest cost increases were seen at facilities that had the most rapid implementation of healthcare IT, the report finds. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been working to stay ahead of the curve in the use of healthcare IT.
The Harvard researchers did note one area where healthcare IT has been a rousing success: the Veterans Administration. Because of its single-payer format, the VA is able to maximize the potential cost savings of healthcare IT. The only way for the civilian healthcare system to cash in on the potential savings suggested by President Obama and members of Congress would be to implement a similar single-payer system, the Harvard research team concluded. The report appears in the Nov 20 online edition of the American Journal of Medicine.