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Conference focuses on IT for chronic-care solutions


By Jennifer Lubell
Posted: March 20, 2008 - 12:01 am ET
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Clinical information technology can improve patient care, reduce costs, and cut down on the time it takes to do studies—or just fill out a prescription, healthcare providers stated at a conference in Washington.

The conference, which focused on the challenges of treating chronically ill patients, was sponsored by the Partnership for Quality Care, and presented numerous solutions for reducing costs through health IT measures, eliminating health disparities, and encouraging patients to share responsibility for the cost and quality of healthcare.

Patients that need follow-up care are often lost in the disjointed healthcare system that exists today, said Eran Bellin, vice president of clinical IT research and development at Emerging Health Information Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of 1,002-bed Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

What clinicians need is software to empower them to track patient outcomes and results and aggregate patient data, he said. Montefiore’s “Clinical Looking Glass” addresses those challenges, he said. Quality improvement studies “are now executed in minutes, not weeks,” he said, adding that the system loads clinical data into a repository on a nightly basis, and can retrieve information on patients in study and control groups instantaneously.

Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect, the largest civilian deployment of electronic health records, in the meantime has reduced the rate of hospital medication errors, said Linda Beckman, Northern California labor coordinator for KP HealthConnect. The electronic health record first went live at Kaiser Permanente's 162-bed South Sacramento Medical Center several years ago. Since September of 2006, there has been a 57% reduction in medication errors at the hospital, a Kaiser spokeswoman said.

The Partnership for Quality Care is a coalition of 12 healthcare groups representing providers and labor unions. The group will be issuing a report that summarizes all the presentations at the conference, in addition to chronic-care solutions from other providers.

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