Michelle Xie, Harvard College ‘16
By providing incentives through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, the U.S. government has encouraged hospitals to adopt electronic health record (EHR) systems, or electronic systems for managing patients’ health records. However, health care organizations in the United States can still improve greatly upon their use of healthcare information technology. Many organizations do not measure patient outcomes at all, and even the ones that do only do so for certain departments. Factors influencing outcomes measurement include culture, costs, degree of standardization, the design process, and Epic’s technical capabilities. The results of this study hold implications for health care organizations, but more importantly, for policymakers and vendors. By requiring outcomes measurement, policymakers can shift the priorities of health care organizations to include outcomes measurement. In addition, vendors can make it easier for organizations to measure outcomes without costly customizations of their EHR systems by increasing the technical capabilities of EHR systems. Finally, by encouraging communication between different stakeholders and an iterative design process, health care organizations can implement outcomes measurement more effectively and cheaply.