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Love of Health Tech Doesn't Have to be (Double) Blind

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, October 25, 2011

One of my favorite quotes from last week's Center for Connected Health Symposium in Boston came from Peter Tipett, MD: "Information technology can reduce cost, increase quality, and advance science," said the vice president of industry solutions and security practices at Verizon's business unit. "But other than that it's not worth it."

In so many ways, so many kinds of Health IT make perfect logical sense. Making patient medical records easily accessible in electronic format? A no-brainer. Giving patients access to their own records which, after all, belong to them? Makes sense.  Tools that help clinicians make quick and accurate evidence-based diagnoses at the point of care? Well, of course that's a good idea.

But try proving it.

There is some research suggesting that electronic health records can have a positive impact on quality. But for medicine, so enamored with empirical evidence, double-blind studies, and peer review, it isn't always enough. Telemedicine, remote health, and m-health are particularly vulnerable to that phrase that concludes so many academic papers: "more research must be done."

Another of my favorite nuggets from the symposium was when Joseph Kvedar, MD, founder and director of the Center for Connected Health, said researchers add that line to the end of their papers because it's in their best interest—they are, after all, in the business of conducting said research.

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