Study Validates DSU Health IT Initiative

 A study completed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and published in the journal Health Affairs finds growing evidence of the benefits of health information technology (HIT). The new study finds that 92 percent of articles on HIT reached conclusions that showed overall positive effects of HIT on key aspects of care including quality and efficiency of health care.  In addition, the study also finds increasing evidence of benefits for all health care providers, not just the larger health IT "leader" organizations (i.e. early adopters of HIT) that provided much of the data regarding experience with health IT in the past. 

HealthPOINT, part of Dakota State University and working with the ONC as South Dakota's Regional Extension Center, launched their Member Services last summer to all state healthcare providers with a special focus on the rural and independent providers.  HealthPOINT Member Services offers students, consumers, and healthcare professionals an opportunity to engage in a South Dakota health IT community through its specialized content, including online webinars and regional workshops.  With experienced Health IT Professionals in every corner of the state, HealthPOINT is also already directly assisting healthcare providers in rural South Dakota communities with vendor selection, change management, workflow optimization, and project management.   HealthPOINT's unique approach of engagement, understanding, and assistance is seeing interest and acceptance grow in Health IT. 

"What this study demonstrates is at the very core of our mission," said Kevin Boyum, Operations Manager for HealthPOINT.  "Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption is vital to improving healthcare in all settings, both large and small.  Our model includes service tiers so we can more adequately meet the needs of all providers.  Through our Member, Consulting, or Managed Services, our resources and expertise are helping facilities realize the positive aspects this study shows.  No matter the stage a facility is at, we understand their unique needs and provide practical solutions to break down barriers and deliver technology that helps to provide the quality of care South Dakotans desire and deserve."

"This article brings us much more up-to-date, both in our confidence regarding the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of adoption and use of HIT, and also in our understanding of problem areas that still need to be addressed," said David Blumenthal, M.D., the national coordinator for HIT and one of the authors of the review.  "This review is important because it helps us correct for the lag in evidence that occurs naturally in the dynamic HIT field, where changes in technology and accelerating adoption cause the old literature to become quickly outdated."

The review reflected a new balance of evidence between HIT "leader" organizations and other entities, especially smaller medical practices.  In previous years, much evidence has come from the "leaders."  The current review shows increased evidence of benefits for others as well.

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as much as $27 billion Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments will be available to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals when they adopt certified EHR technology and successfully demonstrate "meaningful use" of the technology in ways that improve quality, safety, and effectiveness of patient-centered care.

 Positive results highlighted in the article include:

  • One study found that at three New York City dialysis centers, patient mortality decreased by as much as 48 percent while nurse staffing decreased by 25 percent in the three years following implementation of EHRs.
  • In an inpatient study, a clinical decision support tool designed to decrease unnecessary red blood cell transfusions reduced both transfusions and costs, with no increase in patient length-of-stay or mortality.
  • Another study addressing HIT in 41 Texas hospitals found that hospitals with more advanced HIT had fewer complications, lower mortality and lower costs than hospitals with less advanced HIT.

Reflecting on the findings, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., said, "My own personal experience in switching my practice from paper to EHRs showed that the change requires some initial effort; however, it did not interrupt work flow in the clinic. The results are better care for patients and new opportunities for the physician and staff to improve quality outcomes."  Dr. Benjamin switched to EHRs in her Gulf Coast Alabama family practice after 2 hurricanes and a fire destroyed the clinic's paper records.

The nation's 62 Regional Extension Centers (REC)s have enrolled over 50,000 providers nationwide.  HealthPOINT continues to assist providers with the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs. To date HealthPOINT has enrolled over 40% of the state's primary care providers for their services, putting them above the national average. If you are a provider considering an EHR adoption or would like more information, please visit http://www.healthpoint.dsu.edu or contact Jeff Pickett at 605-256-5555.

About HealthPOINT

HealthPOINT, as part of Dakota State University, is South Dakota's Regional Extension Center. As a federally designated health information technology resource and support center for all South Dakota healthcare providers, HealthPOINT focuses on an action-based approach to propel providers in adopting electronic health record systems.

CONTACT: Jeff Pickett, HealthPOINT Marketing/Training Coordinator: jeff.pickett@dsu.edu or call 605-360-7842.


Last Updated: 1/10/12