Health Information Technology Continues to Show Positive Effect on Medical Outcomes: Systematic Review
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Background: Health information technology (HIT) has been introduced into the health care industry since the 1960s when mainframes assisted with financial transactions, but questions remained about HIT's contribution to medical outcomes. Several systematic reviews since the 1990s have focused on this relationship. This review updates the literature. Objective: The purpose of this review was to analyze the current literature for the impact of HIT on medical outcomes. We hypothesized that there is a positive association between the adoption of HIT and medical outcomes. METHODS: We queried the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE) by PubMed databases for peer-reviewed publications in the last 5 years that defined an HIT intervention and an effect on medical outcomes in terms of efficiency or effectiveness. We structured the review from the Primary Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA), and we conducted the review in accordance with the Assessment for Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR). Results: We narrowed our search from 3636 papers to 37 for final analysis. At least one improved medical outcome as a result of HIT adoption was identified in 81% (25/37) of research studies that met inclusion criteria, thus strongly supporting our hypothesis. No statistical difference in outcomes was identified as a result of HIT in 19% of included studies. Twelve categories of HIT and three categories of outcomes occurred 38 and 65 times, respectively. Conclusions: A strong majority of the literature shows positive effects of HIT on the effectiveness of medical outcomes, which positively supports efforts that prepare for stage 3 of meaningful use. This aligns with previous reviews in other time frames.