Feb 10, 2015
Filling the Knowledge Gap
Published in: The American Journal of Managed Care, v. 20, Special Issue No. 17, 2014, p. eSP1-eSP8
Posted on RAND.org on February 05, 2015
Despite rapid growth in the rate of adoption of health information technology (IT), and in the volume of evaluation studies, the existing knowledge base for the value of health IT is not advancing at a similar rate. Most evaluation articles are limited in that they use incomplete measures of value and fail to report the important contextual and implementation characteristics that would allow for an adequate understanding of how the study results were achieved. To address these deficiencies, we present a conceptual framework for measuring health IT value and we propose a checklist of characteristics that should be considered in health IT evaluation studies. The framework consists of 3 key principles: 1) value includes both costs and benefits; 2) value accrues over time; and 3) value depends on which stakeholder's perspective is used. Through examples, we show how these principles can be used to guide and improve health IT evaluation studies. The checklist includes a list of contextual and implementation characteristics that are important for interpretation of results. These improvements will make future studies more useful for policy makers and more relevant to the current needs of the healthcare system.
Current studies do a poor job of describing the value of HIT interventions, both in terms of costs and benefits, making it difficult to pinpoint when and how HIT works best.
Studies need to report on both the costs and benefits of HIT, use longer time horizons, consider the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, and describe implementation details and contextual variables.