Health IT underutilized by IPs

February 21, 2013 in Medical Technology

A new study examining health information technology adoption levels among infection preventionists reveals a salient disconnect, in many cases, between the two. 

Study findings suggest these IT systems are underutilized by those involved in preventing and reporting infections, and officials say the numbers support the need for a greater level of engagement between IPs and health information systems. 


Conducted by researchers at the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University-Purdue University, the study reveals that although the majority of IPs participating indicated they had access to an electronic health record system, only a paltry 20 percent had been involved in the selection, design or implementation process. Officials say those surveyed indicated the IT systems often did not include modules or components that supported infection control activities. 


Moreover, nearly half of all IPs were unaware of their healthcare organization’s participation in a health information exchange. 


“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are encouraging local and state health departments to use health information technologies to improve infectious disease reporting and prevention activities,” said lead author Brian Dixon, Regenstrief Institute investigator and assistant professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, in a press release. “We found that while hospital-based infection preventionists – the people on the frontline – may have access to health information technology, they lack specially designed computer tools needed to sift through the massive amounts of data in electronic medical records.”


Dixon said sentiments expressed by those participating in the survey indicated the desire for improvement pertaining to decision support, communication and paperless reporting methods, as despite the high rates of EHR adoption reported in several recent studies, the majority of IPs still use print and fax methods for reporting notifiable case information to public health officials. 


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