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Report: Clinical Informatics Set for Growth

March 2, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a new report from PwC US Health Research Institute, health organizations view clinical informatics as an important ingredient to their financial success and ability to effectively and affordably manage patient care and wellness.

The report included a survey of more than 600 health management professionals which outlined even though patient care and safety is a top goal of their clinical informatics efforts; few have found ways of using health information to engage patients in managing their own health. The survey found only 15 percent of health insurers and 13 percent of hospitals, physicians groups and other providers believe they have been able to successfully influence patient behavior through their informatics efforts.

In addition, the report found nearly eight in 10 providers (79 percent) are looking to clinical informatics to help reduce medical errors, 61 percent hope to use it to improve population health, and 52 percent hope it will help them reduce costs by involving patients in preventative care routines. Eighty-five percent of health insurers are counting on clinical informatics to improve management of complex cases such as care for patients diagnosed with cancer, 80 percent are seeking a reduction in preventable emergency room visits and hospital readmission rates, and 56 percent hope that findings from their clinical informatics programs will lead to earlier diagnosis and prevention.

PwC found that all of the organizations it studied are now focused on clinical informatics capabilities. While organizations have different needs, expectations for their informatics programs, the one common informatics goal PwC found they all share is a better understanding of medication compliance. Nearly 60 percent of providers and 91 percent of insurers said that improving patient compliance and adherence to prescribed medication is a goal of their clinical informatics program over the next two years. 

Additionally, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of pharmaceutical companies believe that access to information in electronic health records could help them better understand what factors lead to noncompliance as well as the factors affecting the safety and efficacy of patients’ drug usage.

In addition, the PwC found that clinical informatics is set to be even more important in healthcare as the reimbursement landscape shifts from a fee-for-service or volume-based model to an outcomes-based model.   More than half (56 percent) of health organizations surveyed now have a formal clinical informatics program in place. Six in 10 (61 percent) hospitals and physician groups have a formal clinical informatics program, compared to 59 percent of health insurers and 33 percent of pharmaceutical / life sciences companies, which have been more likely to outsource their informatics functions.

PwC’s clinical informatics report is available for download at www.pwc.com/us/hitinformatics.

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