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Good HIT and bad HIT

First and foremost, do no harm. Second, do some good

One of the key issues for high-volume, high-risk workplaces like hospital emergency departments (EDs) is the struggle of conflicting aims. While hospital managers need information systems for data collection and storage, clinicians need efficient clinical documentation, data retrieval and order-entry systems that save time rather than steal it from the patient. The work of clinicians is aided by reliable data but impaired by the delays of real-time input, difficult system navigation, suboptimal presentation of information, and other problems in the user experience of health information technology (HIT).1

Mohan and colleagues’ study of the impact of an electronic medical record information system on ED performance had some limitations.2 It was retrospective and unable to control for all confounders, and therefore could only show a correlation with ED delays, not causation. However, the premise for the study delivers an important message — the work required to use the information system was perceived by the ED staff to directly conflict with time spent with patients.

Another study has shown that the…