Health information technology improves obesity treatment access and screening, but not patient outcomes

Feb 5th – Pediatrics – Health IT has had a small impact on health care processes in pediatric obesity management – namely, increasing access to treatment and physicians’ screening rates.

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1. Health IT has had a small impact on health care processes in pediatric obesity management – namely, increasing access to treatment and physicians’ screening rates.

2. IT has not significantly improved patient outcomes in pediatric obesity management.

Despite the projected $29 billion that the US government will invest in health IT by 2020, the impact of IT on patient outcomes remains understudied. This systemic review on the impact of health IT in childhood obesity management demonstrates that various IT interventions may positively impact health care processes but have a limited effect on patient outcomes. The broad scope of interventions studied (from electronic health records to text-message-support), outcomes reported (from BMI screening to dietary behavior change), and study designs included, makes it difficult to generalize the results from this systemic review. However, it clearly demonstrates that large, well-designed randomized trials are warranted to ensure that future investments in health IT maximally impact childhood obesity screening rates, treatment delivery, and patient outcomes.

Click to read the study in Pediatrics

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1. Health IT has had a small impact on health care processes in pediatric obesity management – namely, increasing access to treatment and physicians’ screening rates.

2. IT has not significantly improved patient outcomes in pediatric obesity management.

This [systematic] review: analyzed 13 studies that evaluated the impact of health IT (electronic health records [EHR], telemedicine, text message or telephone support) on patient outcomes or care processes in pediatric obesity management. These studies varied in design and quality. They found that, while EHR use was associated with increased BMI screening rates and telemedicine improved counseling access for patients, neither was associated with a significant impact on behavior change or weight loss. Text message- or telephone-based support did have a slight positive effect on weight loss maintenance, but only among younger children and if high intensity.

In sum: Despite the projected $29 billion that the US government will invest in health IT by 2020, the impact of IT on patient outcomes remains understudied. This systemic review on the impact of health IT in childhood obesity management demonstrates that various IT interventions may positively impact health care processes but have a limited effect on patient outcomes. The broad scope of interventions studied (from electronic health records to text-message-support), outcomes reported (from BMI screening to dietary behavior change), and study designs included, makes it difficult to generalize the results from this systemic review. However, it clearly demonstrates that large, well-designed randomized trials are warranted to ensure that future investments in health IT maximally impact childhood obesity screening rates, treatment delivery, and patient outcomes.

Click to read the study in Pediatrics

By Elizabeth Kersten and Andrew Bishara

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