Flawed research design harms HIT policy decisions
Research that features weak or flawed design does more harm than good when it is used to drive policy decisions within healthcare--especially when it comes to health IT, according to a post in the Health Affairs Blog.
The authors of the post, Ross Koppel, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Stephen Soumerai of Harvard Medical School, point to a RAND report published in Health Affairs in 2005 that was very influential in the industry--only to be found to be overblown on the benefits of health IT.
"That 2005 report, it emerges, was industry sponsored, profoundly influential and contributed to a trillion dollar societal investment with unproven economic benefits," Koppel and Soumerai write. The report predicted that health IT could save the U.S. more than $81 billion annually.
In 2013, an article was posted in Health Affairs admitting that health IT failed to live up to the promise of the 2005 report. However, according to Koppel and Soumerai, RAND Health Vice President and Director Jeffrey Wasserman earlier this year seemingly backtracked on that notion, saying that the 2005 and 2013 articles were not all that different.
Weak research designs like that shown in the 2005 report, which was paid for by Cerner, GE Healthcare and other vendors, "can fuel non-reproducible findings, which in turn can influence unwise and costly healthcare policy decisions," Koppel and Soumerai write.
As healthcare costs continue to rise, they add, research will be more important than ever in helping decide where the money should flow. Because of that "healthcare research must be based on the strongest feasible designs, and not on protocols that affirm our biases, support hidden funding sources, or obscure wise policy choices."