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Measuring the impact of electronic medical records
Date:3/5/2009

WORCESTER, Mass. The push is on to bring the U. S. health care system into the digital age by replacing paper-based systems now used at many medical facilities with electronic medical records systems and other information technology (IT) tools. To understand how best to realize the benefits these systems can provide, a team of experts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has launched a three-year study of health information technology (HIT) systems now in various stages of implementation at four medical organizationstwo in the United States and one each in Canada and Israel.

Funded by a $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the study will focus on the primary care setting to examine and analyze how implementing HIT systems impacts medical providers, their patients, and the operations of the health care delivery system. The goal of the study is to develop new insights and best practices to help guide future HIT implementations at other medical facilities. "Adapting to computer systems will be a learning process for primary care organizations, for physicians, and even for patients," said Diane Strong, Ph.D., professor of management at WPI. "From what we observe, we will develop new ideas and new concepts for health care delivery, such as better ways of organizing work flow and decision making to take advantage of the new opportunities enabled by these IT systems."

Strong and colleagues Sharon Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of industrial engineering, and Isa Bar-On, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering, are the principal investigators leading the study. The team has extensive experience analyzing the impact of IT systems in other large organizations, such as global manufacturing companies, which have been using enterprise-wide computer systems for decades, with varying degrees of success. "As we've seen in many other complex organizations, just installing an IT system alone typically doesn't achieve efficiencies," J
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Contact: Michael Cohen
mcohen@wpi.edu
508-868-4778
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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