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    Research needed to support eHealth technology benefits

    If the emails we receive are any indication, many physicians will say they don’t need a study to tell them that the benefits of digital technology designed to improve the quality and safety of healthcare have yet to be proven by empirical evidence, but that’s exactly what research published in PLoS Medicine, an online open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science, has found.

    Additional study needs to be conducted related to the cost-effectiveness and the risks associated with implementing technologies such as electronic health records systems, image archiving and communication systems, e-prescribing software, computerized provider order entry systems, and computerized decision support systems, the UK investigators contend.

    So how will the benefits of digital healthcare-related technology be proven?

    “It is vital that future eHealth technologies are evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology’s life cycle,” first author Ashly D. Black and colleagues write. “Such evaluation should be characterized by careful attention to sociotechnical factors to maximize the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption.”

    The findings were based on systematic reviews published between 1997 and 2010 as well as a review of related theoretical, methodological, and technical material.

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