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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

The impact of eHealth on the quality and safety of health care: a systematic overview.

Black AD, Car J, Pagliari C, et al. PLoS medicine. 2011;8:e1000387.

Rapid adoption of digital health care technologies ("eHealth") to improve the quality and safety of care continues at an unprecedented pace. While many eHealth technologies require substantial investment, their adoption is often justified by beliefs that they support efficient and cost-effective care. Research focusing on different eHealth strategies, such as computerized provider order entry, electronic health records, e-prescribing, and clinical decision support systems, continues to grow. This study conducted a systematic review of 53 past systematic reviews assessing the impact of eHealth technologies. Investigators found that most clinical claims made about commonly used technologies were not substantiated by empirical evidence. Furthermore, their findings suggest poor grounds for arguing cost-effectiveness and raise additional concerns about the unintended risks introduced by new technologies. The authors advocate for continued vigilance in evaluating eHealth as a tool to improve patient care, including thoughtful incorporation of these evaluations into policy decisions and spending. A past AHRQ WebM&M interview discussed computerization in health care.