Pit Crews with Computers: Can Health Information Technology Fix Fragmented Care?

61 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2014 Last revised: 21 Dec 2014

See all articles by Nicolas Terry

Nicolas Terry

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: August 5, 2014


Fragmentation and lack of coordination remain as some of the most intractable problems facing health care. Attention has often alighted on the promise of Health care Information Technology not least because IT has had such positive impact on many other personal, professional and industrial domains. For at least two decades the HIT-panacea narrative has been persistent even though the context has shifted. At various times we have been promised that patient safety technologies would solve our medical error problems, electronic transactions would simplify healthcare administration and insurance and clinical data would become interoperable courtesy of electronic medical records. Today the IoM is positioning HIT at the center of its new “continuously learning” health care model that is in large part aimed at solving our fragmentation and lack of coordination problems. While the consensus judgment that HIT can reduce fragmentation and increase coordination has intuitive force the specifics are more complicated. First, the relationship between health care and IT has been both culturally and financially complex. Second, HIT has been overhyped as a solution for all of health care’s woes; it has its own problems. Third, the HIT-fragmentation solution presents a chicken-and-egg problem — can HIT solve health care fragmentation and lack of coordination problems or must health care problems such as episodic care be solved prior to successful deployment of HIT? The article takes a critical look at both health care and HIT with those questions in mind before concluding with some admittedly difficult recommendations designed to break the chicken-and-egg deadlock.

Keywords: HIT, health care, information technology, health care reform, health care market failure

JEL Classification: I11, I18, K32, K30, K19

Suggested Citation

Terry, Nicolas P., Pit Crews with Computers: Can Health Information Technology Fix Fragmented Care? (August 5, 2014). Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-4, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2383470 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2383470

Nicolas P. Terry (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 W. New York St
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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