Adopting Information Technology to Drive Improvements in Patient Safety

Lessons from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Health Information Technology Grantees

Published In: HSR: Health Services Research, v. 44, no. 2, pt. 2, Apr. 2009, p. 684-700

Posted on RAND.org on March 31, 2009

by Cheryl L. Damberg, M. Susan Ridgely, Rebecca Shaw, Robin Meili, Melony E. Sorbero, Lily Bradley, Donna O. Farley

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OBJECTIVES: To document and assess the experiences of 104 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded health information technology (health IT) grantees in planning and implementing health IT systems. DATA SOURCE: Grant proposals and interviews with the AHRQ health IT grantees. DATA COLLECTION METHOD: Extracted descriptive data from the health IT grant proposals; conducted telephone interviews with principal investigators. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: AHRQ funding of the health IT projects provided important support for health IT development work in various health care settings. Successful implementation required commitment from top management, dedicated staff and financial resources, an open process to encourage buy-in and enthusiasm by end users, and sheer persistence. Technologies required tailoring to the specific organization's needs. Grantees felt their projects could be replicated by others, if organizations had ample IT expertise and resources. Evaluating the value of health IT was hampered by the absence of validated instruments and measures, organizational demands that competed with data collection, and lack of evaluation expertise among health IT implementers. CONCLUSIONS: Experiences of the health IT grantees provide rich information for use by health care providers, AHRQ, and other policy makers to help strengthen future health IT development efforts, including the need to improve evaluation design and standards to assess impact.

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