Calling I-T

By • Published: April 10th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Information technology… known practically everywhere by the acronym I-T… has made a huge impact on how the world conducts business and shares information.

Now, I-T’s impact in health care is showing up in the best way possible… improved results in patients.

The gains are not because of revolutionary new tools to diagnose and treat disease, but simply because of better management of mundane things, such as medical notes and records, test results and instructions to treat patients.

A report in a recent Archives of Internal Medicine indicates there are fewer complications and lower death rates in patients at Texas hospitals that have automated some aspects of their health-information systems.

As a bonus, costs seem to be lower.

Computerized medical records and entry systems for insurance provider orders appear to reduce waste, bolster communication, improve quality and provide a new level of accountability for the medical field.

Researchers compared urban hospitals in Texas using a tool that measured physicians’ interactions with the information systems at forty-one hospitals.

Then, they examined inpatient death rates, health complications, costs and lengths of stay for more than one-hundred-sixty-seven-thousand patients.

Among the encouraging findings: Automation of notes and records was actually associated with a fifteen-percent decrease in the odds of in-hospital death.

In the final analysis, the researchers conclude that clinical information technologies are promising tools to improve hospital medicine.

That’s news that should bring smiles to the faces of that growing group of people that come under the heading I-T in the American workplace.