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Back Beat

February 25, 2009
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Study: Health IT Linked with Lower Mortality Rates

Use of information technology in hospitals can lead to fewer deaths, fewer complications and lower healthcare costs, according to data from a study of 41 Texas hospitals published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that use of electronic notes and medical records was associated with a 15 percent drop in patient mortality rates and electronically entering of instructions led to a 55 percent reduction in the likelihood of death in some procedures. In addition, it was found that increased use of automated test results, order entry, and decision support led to lower costs for all hospital admissions.

The study was supported by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund and led by Ruben Amarasingham, M.D., M.B.A., associate chief of medicine at Parkland Health and Hospital System and assistant professor of medicine at UT Southwestern Medical School, and Neil Powe, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Survey: U.S. Physicians Slow to Adopt HIT

An analysis by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund of HIT deployment in seven industrialized countries finds that physicians' adoption of health IT is highly variable, with the United States lagging well behind the other countries.

The study also found that physicians with greater IT capacity were more likely to report feeling well prepared to manage patients with chronic illnesses. Use of electronic records ranges from nearly all physicians in the Netherlands to only 23 percent in Canada and 28 percent in the U.S., according to the survey.

The authors point out that health systems that promote development of information system infrastructure are better able to address coordination and safety issues, particularly for patients with multiple chronic conditions, as well as to maintain satisfaction among the primary care physician workforce.

Data for the analysis was obtained from the 2006 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians, which involved 6,536 physicians in seven countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States.

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency.

Online Health Informatics Program Offered at UC Davis

UC Davis Extension, the continuing and professional education arm of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) has a new certificate program in health informatics available exclusively online.

The 18-unit program explores the health informatics field and how the acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of information can play a critical role in enhancing the quality of care, reducing the costs of delivery and addressing population health issues, it says.

Designed for those with prior experience in a health-related setting, the program complements the master's program at UC Davis, and is intended to provide a meaningful education option for working professionals who cannot commit to a full-time, residential program or who need to come up to speed more quickly due to workplace demands.

For more information or to enroll, call (800) 752-0881.

CHIME: CIOs Supported ICD-10 but Had Doubts About Readiness

A survey of hospital CIOs conducted by the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) before the ICD-10 conversation deadline was extended to 2013 showed that a majority hadn't heard from their IT vendors about their plans for updating products to comply with the new code sets.

According to the research, many respondents were concerned about the amount of time they would have had to test transactions with business partners and how those tests would have been paid for. The deadline for using the ICD-10 codes had been planned for Oct. 1, 2011. While CIOs believe the proposed changes will enable more accurate coding for diagnoses, improving the accuracy of reimbursement and providing other benefits to the industry, they were concerned their organizations would have been rushed into preparing for the transition, says CHIME.

To more effectively prepare for the changes, CHIME is encouraging hospitals and health systems to develop educational materials, brief senior management on the anticipating changes, form ICD-10 industry work groups, and coordinate with other healthcare organizations.

MGMA: IDs Could Save Providers $1 Billion

Englewood, Colo.-headquartered Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) has launched an industry-wide effort calling on health insurers, vendors and healthcare providers to initiate processes to adopt standardized, machine-readable patient ID cards by Jan. 1, 2010, it says.

In an aggressive push to advance the use of this technology, MGMA is asking healthcare professionals to visit

MGMA says it estimates that machine-readable patient ID cards can save physician offices and hospitals as much as $1 billion a year by eliminating unnecessary administrative efforts and denied claims. A machine-readable card compliant with the mandates of the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange costs about 50 cents - just a fraction more than the non-standardized, plastic or paper cards that most insurers now use, MGMA says.