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Improving Health Sector Efficiency

The Role of Information and Communication Technologies

image of Improving Health Sector Efficiency
Despite the promise they hold out, implementing information and communication technologies (ICTs) in clinical care has proven to be a very difficult undertaking. More than a decade of efforts provide a picture of significant public investments, resulting in both notable successes and some highly publicised costly delays and failures. This has been accompanied by a failure to achieve widespread understanding among the general public and the medical profession of the benefits of electronic record keeping and information exchange.  

With consistent cross-country information on these issues largely absent, the OECD has used lessons learned from case studies in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States to identify the opportunities offered by ICTs and to analyse under what conditions these technologies are most likely to result in efficiency and quality-of-care improvements. The findings highlight a number of practices or approaches that could usefully be employed in efforts to improve and accelerate the adoption and use of these technologies.

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Executive summary

Today the range of possible applications of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the health sector is enormous. The technology has progressed significantly and many estimate that ICT implementation can result in care that is both higher in quality, safer, and more responsive to patients’ needs and, at the same time, more efficient (appropriate, available, and less wasteful). Advocates, in particular, point to the potential reduction in medication errors as a critical advantage.

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