The Progress of HIT Use Among Physicians

Over the last two years the number of hospitals using health information technology has more than doubled, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Now more than $3 billion in incentive payments has been given to 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 physicians to ensure meaningful use of HIT.
However, when compared to other countries, physicians in the U.S. are the most skeptical about how well HIT will reduce unnecessary interventions and procedures, a survey by Accenture revealed. While more and more physicians are using HIT, 40% reported that they were not convinced that using HIT will improve outcomes for patients. Also, 43% didn’t believe that HIT systems would increase speed of access to health services.
This could change over the years as physicians begin to use the technology more frequently. The Accenture survey also found that those who more routinely use HIT rated the benefits more positively than their counterparts who are less involved with the technology. There is also an age divide with almost three-quarters of doctors under the age of 50 saying that they see the benefits of HIT.
While U.S. physicians named improved coordination of care across care settings and better access to quality data for clinical research as the top two benefits, there is one area that they have to beware of. A Health Affairs study found that HIT can actually drive costs up.
System features available when a physician is electronically accessing test results might be enticing doctors to order more tests. Those with access to electronic results ordered imaging test in 18% of appointments, while physicians without electronic access ordered tests in just 13% of appointments.