Can Health Care Information Technology Save Babies?
Published In: The Journal of Political Economy, v. 119, no. 2, Apr. 2011, p. 289-324
Posted on RAND.org on March 31, 2011
Electronic medical records (EMRs) facilitate fast and accurate access to patient records, which could improve diagnosis and patient monitoring. Using a 12-year county-level panel, we find that a 10 percent increase in births that occur in hospitals with EMRs reduces neonatal mortality by 16 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is driven by a reduction of deaths from conditions requiring careful monitoring. We also find a strong decrease in mortality when we instrument for EMR adoption using variation in state medical privacy laws. Rough cost effectiveness calculations suggest that EMRs are associated with a cost of $531,000 per baby's life saved.