News Feature | December 20, 2013

Study Of Impact Of IT In Nursing Homes Set To Begin

Source: Health IT Outcomes
John Oncea

By John Oncea, Digital Editorial Director

HTO Seniors On Computer

University of Missouri three-year study is the first in 10 years to examine relationship between IT use and quality of patient care in nursing homes

A Patriot Ledger blog post asks if IT should be a decision when choosing a nursing home. The author says yes, writing, “IT sophistication should be an important factor to consider when individuals choose nursing homes for their loved ones (as it) is used  … to admit and discharge residents, monitor patients’ dietary and pharmacy needs, and complete administrative activities.”

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri will be the first to study the relationships between IT systems and specific components of nursing home care, such as resident care, clinical support and administrative activities. The study is the first of this magnitude in a decade.

Greg Alexander, associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and lead researcher of the study said, “People may not consider IT implementation to be important when searching for a nursing home, but IT certainly impacts the communication between staff and the continuity of care for the patients. This study will show which types of IT affect the quality of nursing homes the most.”

Alexander, according to the release, “hopes to use his findings to determine which IT capabilities lead to high-quality care in order to benchmark best practices of IT implementation in nursing homes throughout the country. Also, Alexander hopes to understand how IT is being adopted in nursing homes. This information will be used to create more specific educational programs for various nursing home disciplines and fill the knowledge void regarding IT implementation in nursing homes.

“In addition, Alexander hopes the results of his study will influence the science of nursing home quality measurement by incorporating variables such as IT, which previously has not been included in these quality measurement systems. In turn, this information could help family members make better informed decisions about which nursing homes would be best for their loved ones.”

Healthcare IT News further notes, “In a previous study of IT in Missouri nursing homes, Alexander found that IT helped health professionals make clinical decisions, track patients' care, and protect residents' privacy. ‘Our research team will study 10 percent of all U.S. nursing homes' IT use for the next three years,’ Alexander said. ‘We will track survey responses each year and analyze how trends in IT adoption levels correlate with nursing home quality measures, such as the number of residents with urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers and pain.’”

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