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UT trainees tackle health information technology issues
Date:11/19/2008

Many health care providers are overloaded with information. And more is coming. At The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston (SHIS), research trainees are learning how to address the many issues raised by the explosion in e-information.

SHIS recently received a 5-year, $1.3 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to teach six young investigators how to conduct research in health information technology (Health IT). Four of the positions have been filled.

"There is a huge move to use health information technology to improve health care," said Todd R. Johnson, Ph.D., the grant's principal investigator and co-director, and associate dean for academic affairs at the UT School of Health Information Sciences. "The problem is that the current technology is not designed to efficiently support the information needs of clinicians. As a result, there have been many cases where the introduction of health information technology resulted in a decrease in efficiency and an increase in medical errors."

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report estimates that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors and that medical errors cost the nation about $38 billion a year.

"Most medical errors are caused in part by information overload," said Eric Thomas, M.D., co-director of the training grant, director of the University of Texas-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety and the Griff T. Ross Professor in Humanities and Technology at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "People are trying to process an enormous amount of information."

The trainees are working on projects designed to increase patient safety.

One of the trainees, Mona Sawhney, M.D., is focusing on how best to design information communication systems so that physicians don't miss patients' abnormal test result notifications. "Some
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Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3042
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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