Health Care:

Benefits and Barriers to Automated Medical Records

T-AIMD-94-117: Published: May 6, 1994. Publicly Released: May 6, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the benefits of and the barriers to automating medical records. GAO noted that: (1) information systems technology would improve public health care services, control health care costs, and provide information for health care administration; (2) automated medical records improve record content and retrieval time, provide reminders for needed care and alerts for adverse drug interactions, and support outcomes research; (3) hospitals using automated patient medical records have increased staff productivity and potential reductions in operating costs; (4) barriers to automating medical records include the lack of standards, the cost of automation in the face of budget constraints, security and privacy issues, and health care professionals' reluctance to use the technology; (5) the federal government needs to provide leadership in the design and development of automated records systems to meet legislative reporting requirements for administrative, financial, and clinical information; (6) the Department of Health and Human Services is in the best position to provide such leadership because it is required to conduct outcomes research and disseminate research findings and guidelines; and (7) the success of national health care reform depends on the effective implementation of automated information management systems.

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