An Updated Reading List on Health IT

“It is only the ignorant who despise education.” - Publilius Syrus, Latin Poet, 43-85 AD

In a March 2009 post "A Primer On Why We Have Busywork Generators Masquerading as EMR's: Health IT Reality vs. the Bernard Madoff Version", I posted a "reading list" of articles about health IT that I consider essential in understanding the issues surrounding the experimental nature of this technology.

I wrote:

Anyone contemplating policy work in health IT should be intimately familiar with these works, as they illustrate the true HIT environment in 2009, not the Bernard Madoff "unlimited returns no matter what" version.

What these articles do not illustrate is the common atmosphere of irrational exuberance and complacency now prevalent about HIT, with healthcare organizations and physicians now being pushed forcefully to adopt these technologies or suffer payment penalties they can ill afford:

I've updated the list.

Updated reading list (not meant to be at all comprehensive; this is just a set I've collected over recent years writing on health IT):


Note: Late 2011 Addenda

  • [A] Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care, U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies, Nov. 2011. The IOM is aware of severe health IT risks and safety issues, recognizes that health IT is unregulated, but admits it does not know the magnitude of the risks and safety issues. (Is that the proper environment for rapid national deployment?)


[1] Electronic Health Records and Clinical Decision Support Systems: Impact on National Ambulatory Care Quality. Max J. Romano, BA; Randall S. Stafford, MD, PhD, Arch Intern Med. Published online Jan. 24, 2011. doi:10.1001/ archinternmed.2010.527. Conclusion: "Our findings indicate no consistent association between EHRs and CDS and better quality. These results raise concerns about the ability of health information technology to fundamentally alter outpatient care quality."

[2] Electronic Health Record Use and the Quality of Ambulatory Care in the United States. Linder, Ma, Bates et al. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:1400-1405. Conclusion: As implemented, EHRs were not associated with better quality ambulatory care.

[3] The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Health Care: A Systematic Overview. Black AD, Car J, Pagliari C, Anandan C, Cresswell K, et al. PLoS Medicine 8(1): e1000387 (Jan. 18, 2011). doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387. Conclusion: There is a large gap between the postulated and empirically demonstrated benefits of eHealth technologies. In addition, there is a lack of robust research on the risks of implementing these technologies and their cost-effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated, despite being frequently promoted by policymakers and “techno-enthusiasts” as if this was a given.

[4] Electronic Health Records’ Limited Successes Suggest More Targeted Uses. DesRoches, Jha et al., Health Affairs, April 2010 vol. 29 no. 4 639-646, doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2009.1086. Abstract: We examined electronic health record adoption in U.S. hospitals and the relationship to quality and efficiency. Across a large number of metrics examined, the relationships were modest at best and generally lacked statistical or clinical significance.

[5] Health information technology: fallacies and sober realities. Karsh et al. (Oct. 2010). JAMIA 2010 17: 617-623. Abstract: We discuss 12 HIT fallacies and their implications for design and implementation. These fallacies must be understood and addressed for HIT to yield better results. Foundational cognitive and human factors engineering research and development are essential to better inform HIT development, deployment, and use.

[6] Challenges in ethics, safety, best practices, and oversight regarding HIT vendors, their customers, and patients: a report of an AMIA special task force. Goodman et al. JAMIA doi:10.1136/jamia.2010.008946. Nov. 2010.

[7] The Top Ten Health Technology Threats to Patient Safety for 2011. ECRI Institute, Plymouth Meeting, PA, Dec. 7, 2010. Data loss, system incompatibilities, and other health IT complications is #5.

[8] Current Approaches to U.S. Healthcare Information Technology are Insufficient. Computational Technology for Effective Health Care: Immediate Steps and Strategic Directions. National Research Council of the U.S. National Academies, Jan. 2009. Abstract: Current efforts aimed at the nationwide deployment of health care information technology (IT) will not be sufficient to achieve medical leaders' vision of health care in the 21st century and may even set back the cause, says a new report from the National Research Council ... The report describes difficulties with data sharing and integration, deployment of new IT capabilities, and large-scale data management. Most importantly, current health care IT systems offer little cognitive support; clinicians spend a great deal of time sifting through large amounts of raw data (such as lab and other test results) and integrating it with their medical knowledge to form a whole picture of the patient.

[9] Evaluating the Impact of the Electronic Health Record on Patient Flow in a Pediatric Emergency Department. Mathison, Chamberlain, Children's National Medical Center – Division of Emergency Medicine, Washington, DC. Applied Clinical Informatics, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2011, 10.4338/ACI-2010-08-RA-0046

[10] A Critical Essay on the Deployment of an ED Clinical Information System ‐ Systemic Failure or Bad Luck?, Professor Jon Patrick, Health Information Technology Research Laboratory, School of Information Technologies, University of Sydney, Australia, Jan. 2010. Severe software engineering flaws in a major U.S. EHR for emergency rooms makes the software difficult to use, unstable and subject to unpredictable data loss.

[11] E-Health Hazards: Provider Liability and Electronic Health Record Systems. Sharona Hoffman and Andy Podgurski. Berkeley Technology Law Journal (2010). Followup paper on EHR medical and legal risks. This article is a first of its kind, a comprehensive analysis of the liability risks associated with use of clinical IT. The authors point out that the potential benefits of computerization could be substantial, but EHR systems also give rise to new liability risks for health care providers that have received little attention in the legal literature.

[12] Meaningful Use and Certification of Health Information Technology: What About Safety? Sharona Hoffman and Andy Podgurski. Case Research Paper Series in Legal Studies Working Paper 2010-34, October 2010.

[13] Finding a Cure: The Case for Regulation And Oversight of Electronic Health Records Systems, Sharona Hoffman and Andy Podgurski. Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 2008 vol. 22, No. 1

[14] Emerging Trends in Electronic Health Record Liability. Chad P. Brouillard. For the Defense, July 2010 (Defense Research Institute).

[15] Electronic Health Records: Recognizing and Managing the Risks. ClaimsRx: Clinical and Risk Management Perspectives. NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company, Oct. 2009.

[16] Litigation in the Decade of Electronic Health Records. Joel B. Korin and Madelyn S. Quattrone. New Jersey Law Journal, June 11, 2007.

[17] Role of Computerized Physician Order Entry Systems in Facilitating Medication Errors. Ross Koppel, PhD, et al, Journal of the American Medical Association, 2005;293:1197-1203

[18] Workarounds to Barcode Medication Administration Systems: Their Occurrences, Causes and Threats to Patient Safety, Koppel, Wetterneck, Telles & Karsh, JAMIA 2008;15:408-423

[19] Hiding in Plain SIght: What Koppel et al. tell us about healthcare IT. Christopher Nemeth, Richard Cook. Journal of Biomedical Informatics. 38 (4): 262-3.

[20] Health Care Information Technology Vendors' "Hold Harmless" Clause - Implications for Patients and Clinicians, Ross Koppel and David Kreda, Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009; 301(12):1276-1278

[21] Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A National Study. Himmelstein. Wright, Woolhandler. The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 123, Issue 1 , Pages 40-46, January 2010.

[22] Unintended errors with EHR-based result management: a case series. Yackel and Embi; JAMIA 2010 17: 104-107; doi: 10.1197/jamia.M3294, Oct. 2009.

[23] Information Technology: Not a Cure for the High Cost of Health Care: Knowledge@Wharton, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, June 10, 2009. (PDF version available at this link).

[24] Contemporary Issues in Medical Informatics: Common Examples of Healthcare Information Technology Difficulties. Teaching website, Scot Silverstein, MD, Drexel University, College of Information Science and Technology, Philadelphia, PA. Site initiated in 1999.

[25] Healthcare Renewal blog. I write on healthcare IT issues at this multi-author website sponsored by the Foundation for Integrity and Responsibility in Medicine (FIRM), a 501(c)(3) advocacy group. FIRM researches problems with leadership and governance in healthcare that threaten healthcare's core values.

[26] Health IT Project Success and Failure: Recommendations from Literature and an AMIA Workshop. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Bonnie Kaplan and Kimberly D. Harris-Salamone.

[27] Joint Commission: Sentinel Events Alert on HIT, Dec. 2008.

[28] Internal FDA memorandum on HIT risks to Jeffrey Shuren MD JD (Director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health). "Not Intended for Public Use." Feb. 23, 2010. (Description/summary of memorandum is at this link).

[29] FDA's Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database (MAUDE) and HIT risks. Healthcare Renewal Blog, Scot M. Silverstein MD, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, Jan. 2011

[30] Health IT's Mission Hostile User Experience (eight-part essay), Healthcare Renewal Blog, Scot M. Silverstein MD, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, Feb. - Mar. 2009.

[31] The National Programme for IT in the NHS: Progress since 2006. Summary points, conclusions & recommendations. UK Parliament House of Commons, Public Accounts Committee, January 2009. (Full report at this link.)

[32] The future of the NPfIT. Program slated for major downsizing and decentralization after poor progress and expenditures exceeding £13 billion. UK Dept. of Health, Sept. 2010.

[33] "Don't Repeat the UK's Electronic Health Records Failure". Stephen B. Soumerai, Professor of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Anthony Avery, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Nottingham Medical School, UK. Huffington Post, Dec. 5, 2010.

[34] Health informatics — Guidance on the management of clinical risk relating to the deployment and use of health software. UK National Health Service, DSCN18 (2009), formerly ISO/TR 29322:2008(E).

[35] Health Informatics — Application of clinical risk management to the manufacture of health software. UK National Health Service, DSCN14 (2009), formerly ISO/TS 29321:2008(E).

[36] The Impact of eHealth on the Quality & Safety of Healthcare, A Report for the NHS Connecting for Health Evaluation Programme. (Note: 7 MB in length). Car et al., Imperial College, London, March 2008.

[37] Medical Project Agency's Working Group on Medical Information Systems: Project summary. Proposal for guidelines regarding classification of software based information systems used in health care. Läkemedelsverket - Swedish Medical Products Agency (MPA), June 2009, revised Jan. 2010.

[38] Tensions and Paradoxes in Electronic Patient Record Research: A Systematic Literature Review Using the Meta-narrative Method. Greenhalgh, Potts, Wong, Bark and Swinglehurst, University College London. Milbank Quarterly, Dec. 2009.

[39] Failure to Provide Clinicians Useful IT Systems: Opportunities to Leapfrog Current Technologies, Ball et al., Methods Inf Med 2008; 47: 4–7,

[40] IT Vulnerabilities Highlighted by Errors, Malfunctions at Veterans’ Medical Centers, JAMA Mar. 4, 2009, p. 919-920.

[41] Software hiccups cause drug, treatment errors at VA”, Associated Press, January 14, 2009

[42] Electronic Records System Unreliable, Difficult to Use, Service Officials Tell Congress, Sandra Basu, U.S. Medicine - the Voice of Federal Medicine, May 2009

[43] Unexpected Increased Mortality After Implementation of a Commercially Sold Computerized Physician Order Entry System, Han et al., PEDIATRICS Vol. 116 No. 6 December 2005, pp. 1506-1512 (doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1287).

[44] The Computer Will See You Now, New York Times, Armstrong-Coben, March 5, 2009.

[45] Physician testimony to HHS Standards Committee Implementation Workgroup of the ONC, Jan. 11, 2011. Reproduced with permission at Healthcare Renewal blog.

[46] Bad Health Informatics Can Kill. Working Group for Assessment of Health Information Systems of the European Federation for Medical Informatics (EFMI).

[47] "Dutch nationwide EHR postponed: Are they in good company?",, Jan. 24, 2009

[48] "The failure rates of EMR implementations are also consistently high at close to 50%", from Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Health Information Management Research – iSHIMR 2006

[49] Adverse Effects of Information Technology in Healthcare. This knowledge center presents a collection of information on the adverse effects of information technology in its application to healthcare. It also references sources of information on information security, and related media reports.

[50] The Machinery Behind Health-Care Reform: How an Industry Lobby Scored a Swift, Unexpected Victory by Channeling Billions to Electronic Records - Robert O'Harrow Jr., Washington Post, May 16, 2009

[51] American Association of Physicians and Surgeons Survey on Health IT, June 2008

[52] Pessimism, Computer Failure, and Information Systems Development in the Public Sector. Shaun Goldfinch, University of Otago, New Zealand, Public Administration Review 67;5:917-929, Sept/Oct. 2007

I await invective that these sources are "cherry picked" and "anecdotal."

-- SS