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Using information technology to improve the health care of older adults.
The high burden of illness and frailty common among our growing population of older adults often results in fragmentation of care across providers and health care systems, increasing the complexity and costs of caring for these patients. Information technology offers one way to meet this challenge. Scientists at the Regenstrief Institute have more than a quarter-century of experience in using medical informatics to support clinicians in the day-to-day care of older adults. Their research has progressed through several evolutionary cycles, beginning with the acquisition of relevant data and moving to studies of the most efficient and effective mechanisms that bring information to bear at the time of clinical decision making. Information technology designed with the input of the end user has the greatest promise of changing provider behavior because it balances technological challenges with the cultural context of the practice environment. One topic of active research is information technology to support transitions of care among sites and providers. These transitions place older adults at increased risk for avoidable illness, death, and health care costs. Information systems that improve communication among providers during these transitions have the potential to improve safety and reduce costs.