KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

More Studies Support Health IT Implementation

As the federal government prepares to release billions of dollars in stimulus funding for health information technology, a series of reports and studies released this week offered new evidence that the technology has the power to improve care and research.

"Health care experts say EMRs will make medicine safer, more efficient, and more cost effective, and three quarters of the public say they're all for it," the Charlotte Observer reports, citing the latest issue of Health Affairs. The Observer highlights evidence that, if implemented correctly, the technology can help patients "skip trips to the doctor;" quickly get lab test results; forget about packing x-rays on the way to visit a new doctor; double check recommendations on drug interactions; and keep track of their own – or family members' – health care from afar (Shute, 5/26).

Meanwhile, a new report published by the New England Healthcare Institute calls for a "makeover" of primary-care practices, which would include the expanded use of health information technology, Modern Healthcare reports (DerGurahian, 5/26).

On the research front, Kaiser Permanente, the California-based HMO and health care provider, broke new ground using the health information technology they already have. Kaiser Permanente's study of children whose parents refuse immunizations for pertussis – or whooping cough – found that those kids are 23 times more likely to catch the disease, the Portland Oregonian reports. The study was "the first to use electronic medical records to track immunization refusals and possible pertussis infections" (Colburn, 5/27).

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