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HHS homes in on IT in preventing HAIs


By Maureen McKinney
Posted: April 19, 2012 - 12:15 pm ET
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In a revised draft of its National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections, HHS emphasized the central role of health information technology in effective HAI surveillance.

"Advances in information technology, harmonization of disparate data standards, incentive programs designed to promote the meaningful use of electronic health records and capabilities to connect with and integrate multiple data types and sources all provide opportunities to enhance national capacity to monitor, measure and prevent the occurrence of HAIs," HHS said in the updated plan, published Thursday.

HHS acknowledged significant gains in infection prevention since the plan was first released in 2009, including a 33% drop in central-line associated bloodstream infections and a 10% reduction in surgical-site infections. But the plan also stressed the need to more effectively address other types of infections, such as Clostridium difficile, as well as the need to boost infection prevention efforts in settings outside the hospital.

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Interoperability, integration, decision support and standardized definitions and standards are necessary for infection monitoring, HHS said. "Promoting the linking or sharing of HAI data across disparate systems in a more integrated fashion provides data for comprehensive analysis and to inform prevention strategies," the agency said in the plan.

HHS is seeking public comment on the plan through June 19.


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