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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 http://www.SwipeIT.org.

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.

HL7 Announces First EHR Standard for Child Healthcare

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Health Level Seven (HL7) announced it has passed the healthcare industry's first ANSI-approved standard that specifies the basic functional requirements for child healthcare in an electronic health record (EHR) system.

The HL7 Child Health Functional Profile for EHR systems is based upon the HL7 EHR System Functional Model, which is also an ANSI-approved American National Standard.

The purpose of the Child Health Functional Profile is to define the general pediatric functions critical for electronic health record systems that are used to care for children in the United States. Five major functional topics are addressed that are essential for an EHR system used to care for children including immunization management, growth tracking, medication dosing, data norms and privacy.

California Network Demonstrates Lab Data Sharing

Long Beach Network for Health (LBNH) of Long Beach, Calif., says it can now exchange secure electronic patient clinical information among providers.

A participant in the National Health Information Network, LBNH demonstrated how it could share a patient's laboratory results and other clinical data among community healthcare providers. According to the network, it successfully tested electronic links between Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children's Hospital, Talbert Medical Group, Memorial Healthcare IPA, and WellPoint Health Plan using secure Web-based technology. The California network says it anticipates that the interoperable system will be fully operational by the end of the first quarter 2009.

LBNH is a non-profit organization created in 2003 as a health information exchange in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The network is a public-private collaboration of physicians, hospitals, healthcare organizations, and patient advocates.

KLAS Report: RFID Still Not Mainstream

Findings from a new report from Orem, Utah-based KLAS suggest that organizations have very limited awareness of the major RTLS vendors and how their products are being used.

The KLAS report, Real-Time Location Systems Perception Study 2009, looks at provider impressions and understanding of RTLS solutions at more than 120 organizations known for their progressive use of healthcare IT. Most notably, only 29 percent of the survey base could list an RTLS vendor by name, and 59 percent were not familiar enough with RTLS offerings to identify the technology platform they would consider using.

The report, which examines the RTLS solution market and compares the strengths and weaknesses of participating vendors, is available online to healthcare providers at a discount rate. To purchase the full report, healthcare providers and vendors can visit http://www.klasresearch.com.

Healthcare Informatics 2009 March;26(3):84-85


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