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Hospital IT Strategy Challenge: Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs)

July 1, 2007
by Stacey Kramer
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Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City-headquartered, 21-hospital nonprofit, Intermountain Healthcare employs more than 500 physicians, and provides care for more than 2 million Utah and Idaho residents. Though the Salt Lake City healthcare system sees more than 5 million outpatient visits, its average inpatient charges, according to Stanley Huff, M.D., Intermountain Healthcare CMIO, are lower than the Utah average.

Huff says people often ask him, "How can you provide that quality for that cost?" Huff's answer, he says, is that his organization is not trying to be something it is not. "We're not trying to be a Mayo Clinic," he says, pointing out that his organization's goals include better serving its own area residents, not expanding into other regions. "Plus," Huff adds, "quality actually costs less, not more."

What quality improvement and cost containment mean at Intermountain is extensive, real-time patient-specific decision support and measured scorecards. Focused on lowering the number of surgical infections, the Utah organization created a prophylactic antibiotic program to prescribe antibiotics before any type of surgical infection develops, avoiding a longer course of antibiotics. From mammogram and immunization reminders, to adverse drug detection that check for drug levels in toxic ranges, including pharmacy record screenings for medications such as Benadryl, Intermountain's alerts are designed to help its physicans.

Stanley Huff, M.D.

For Huff, what success comes down to is not just technology. "It's about having good intentions and wanting to do the right thing," he says.

Stanley Huff, M.D., may be reached at