Hospitals Make Healthy IT Investments

By Wylie Wong Print this article Print

The health care industry continues to invest heavily in Information Technology in an effort to improve patient care and get a handle on rising medical costs.

Seton Healthcare Family, in central Texas, is using business analytics (BA) and business intelligence (BI) to diagnose and solve a problem every hospital faces: costly readmissions.

The Austin-based health care provider—which has 38 clinical locations, including 11 hospitals—is mining patient data in electronic medical records (EMRs) to discover the root causes of why patients are returning to the hospital for the same health problems. Seton’s administrators hope to spot patterns that will allow them to identify patients who might be at risk of readmission, and, in turn, develop programs for early intervention.

“The worst thing is to have a preventable readmission,” says Ryan Leslie, Seton’s vice president of analytics and health economics. “It’s getting actionable information in aggregate that will allow us to design programs to be more proactive.”

The use of BA and BI is a growing trend in the  health care industry, as more providers move away from paper-based records and adopt EMRs, analysts say. By analyzing vast amounts of medical, billing and administrative data, hospitals can detect trends and patterns, measure performance and make forecasts that will allow organizations to improve patient care and boost operational efficiencies.

“It’s a huge trend—essentially data warehousing that we couldn’t do 20 years ago,” says Gartner Research Vice President Barry Runyon. “It’s about improving patient outcomes and saving money.”

The health care industry continues to invest heavily in IT in an effort to improve patient care and get a handle on rising medical costs. It is taking advantage of everything from server virtualization, cloud computing and analytics on the back-end to EMRs, wireless telemetry equipment and automated pharmacy equipment on the front end. The goal? To improve medical care, bolster performance and reduce inefficiencies.

“You are automating workflow,” points out Tim Gee, principal of Medical Connectivity Consulting. “It’s about higher patient safety, improved outcomes and shorter length of stay, and all those things translate into lower health care costs.”

This article was originally published on 2012-01-19
Wylie Wong is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
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