Leveraging Information Technology to Improve Quality and Safety

Journal: IMIA Yearbook
ISSN: 0943-4747

Biomedical Informatics for Sustainable Health Systems

Issue: 2007: IMIA Yearbook 2007
Pages: 22-29

Leveraging Information Technology to Improve Quality and Safety

Section 1: Health and Clinical Management


J. S. Einbinder (1,2,3); D. W. Bates (1,2,3,4)

(1) Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; (2) Partners Healthcare System; (3) Harvard Medical School; (4) Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA USA;


Patient safety, registries, Physicians’ practice patterns, personal health records, regional health information organizations


Objectives: To examine five areas that we will be central to informatics research in the years to come: changing provider behavior and improving outcomes, secondary uses of clinical data, using health information technology to improve patient safety, personal health records, and clinical data exchange. Methods: Potential articles were identified through Medline and Internet searches and were selected for inclusion in this review by the authors. Results: We review highlights from the literature in these areas over the past year, drawing attention to key points and opportunities for future work. Conclusions: Informatics may be a key tool for helping to improve patient care quality, safety, and efficiency. However, questions remain about how best to use existing technologies, deploy new ones, and to evaluate the effects. A great deal of research has been done on changing provider behavior, but most work to date has shown that process benefits are easier to achieve than outcomes benefits, especially for chronic diseases. Use of secondary data (data warehouses and disease registries) has enormous potential, though published research is scarce. It is now clear in most nations that one of the key tools for improving patient safety will be information technology— many more studies of different approaches are needed in this area. Finally, both personal health records and clinical data exchange appear to be potentially transformative developments, but much of the published research to date on these topics appears to be taking place in the U.S.— more research from other nations is needed.

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