Hospitals using more information technology produce better patient-care outcomes in four key areas-risk-adjusted mortality, patient-safety measures, The Joint Commission's core measures, and average length of stay-according to a survey in H&HN (Hospitals and Health Networks). "This is the strongest evidence in the 9-year history of the survey of an association between the implementation and adoption of information technology and the quality and cost of patient care," writes associate publisher Alden T. Solovy.
More than 560 hospitals and health systems representing 1,284 hospitals were surveyed about how they use information technology. The survey identified 10 lessons learned from the top 100 "most wired" hospitals. For example:
* medication management drives quality to the bedside. Nearly 90% of the most wired hospitals can compare current and prescribed medication lists electronically, compared with only 48% of the least wired.
* smart alerts improve care. For example, a real-time harm monitor used in one facility automatically analyzes information on patient charts to alert clinicians to patients with potentially deteriorating conditions. Another hospital uses an automated system to check whether a fall-risk assessment is on file for each patient. If not, caregivers are prompted to conduct an assessment.
* plan for the worst. Hospitals must have plans in place to deal with both natural and man-made disasters that interrupt communications. Nearly one-third of most-wired hospitals say they could restore clinical information systems within 4 hours of a complete shutdown; only 5% of the least wired say the same.