Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Digital Divide in Hospitals that Care for Poor Patients

This week in an online edition of Health Affairs, researchers resport that hospitals that serve a larger share of poor patients are lagging far behind others in adopting electronic health records (EHR). Ashish Jha, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and George Washington University believe that this digital divide could increase disparities in care and without federal dollars, hospitals that serve the poor will have a difficult time catching up on EHR use.

Study highlights include:

"Hospitals with higher rates of poor patients had lower levels of adoption of electronic clinical decision support tools, lower rates of electronic medication lists and electronic discharge summaries.

Among hospitals without an EHR system, inadequate capital was cited significantly more often as a barrier to adoption by high disproportionate share (DSH) hospitals than low ones.

High-DSH hospitals were significantly more likely than low-DSH hospitals to report concerns about future support."

This study will appear as the third in a series of broad reports on health information technology adoption trends in hospitals, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the federal government’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The executive summary for this report, "Health Information Technology in the United States: On the Cusp of Change, 2009," was released Monday; the full report will be released in early November.

Read the Health Affairs article.
Download the executive summary.
Read the press release.

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