Institute of Medicine checklist offers healthcare IT guidance

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Institute of Medicine checklist offers healthcare IT guidance
Institute of Medicine checklist offers healthcare IT guidance

Healthcare executives should have a full understanding of the benefits of healthcare information technology as a means for improving outcomes and lowering costs, new guidelines recommend. 

The Institute of Medicine, in collaboration with executives from 11 leading providers, developed a checklist offering strategies for cutting waste and improving patient care. In addition to outlining safeguards against medical errors, injuries and infections, the checklist emphasizes the use of IT to increase transparency on performance, outcomes and costs.

Executives from health systems including Geisinger, Kaiser Permanente, the Veterans Administration, the Cleveland Clinic and others contributed to the checklist.

It should give automated information that can be used when care needs to be delivered, the report states.

“Reliable information systems are critical not just to ensure care quality, but also to improve efficiency in administrative and other process measures,” the report notes.

Implementing electronic health records and other technologies to enhance connectivity and efficiency can achieve cost savings and improve quality, executives agreed. These systems aid operators in areas such as automating order entry and reducing paperwork; optimizing staffing levels and scheduling; managing equipment and resources; and defining care protocols, the IOM added.

The report highlights several successful IT implementation efforts. For example, Geisinger implemented a series of health IT initiatives to improve quality and enhance efficiency, such as electronic health records; a health information exchange; e-prescribing modules; a data warehouse; and comprehensive document management. In the past five years, Geisinger saved more than $500,000 from reduced nursing staff time through e-prescribing; and more than $1 million from reducing time spent on transcription. n