Chicago — A new report from the National Research Council concludes that several provider organizations seen as leaders in the use of health information technology fall short in offering IT-related decision support and problem-solving capabilities.

The National Research Council is part of the National Academies, which advise the nation on science, engineering and medical issues. The council studied how the provider organizations use computer systems and information management to provide care.

Council members visited the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; the Hospital Corporation of America's TriStar Health System in Tennessee and Kentucky; Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.; Partners HealthCare System in Boston; Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City; University of California-San Francisco Medical Center; and Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California.

They found that the clinical information systems in these organizations lack comprehensive decision support. Further, much of the entered data is used to comply with regulations and defend against lawsuits, rather than to improve care. Consequently, valuable time and energy is spent managing data as opposed to understanding the patient, according to the report.

The report recommends provider organizations, government agencies and IT vendors embrace measurable improvements in care quality as the driving rational for adopting IT. Additionally, they should avoid programs that focus on adoption of specific clinical applications, authors recommend.

Partners HealthCare and Vanderbilt were among the sponsors of the report, titled, "Computational Technology for Effective Health Care: Immediate Steps and Strategic Directions." It is available for purchase here.

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