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Electronic health records could help identify which patients most need ICU resources
Date:1/31/2013

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A few integrated health care systems such as the Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System and Kaiser Permanente Northern California have already tapped into the ability of electronic health records to generate reliable estimates of the risk of dying within 30 days for every patient on admission. This type of data could determine for instance whether a patient had a 3 percent chance or 80 percent chance of dying within the next month. Calculations are based on real-time data of laboratory results, demographics, coexisting conditions and vital signs. Authors note that this existing technology may be used to help assess ICU admissions.

"We are not suggesting this calculation be used alone in making these decisions but it's another tool that may with more research eventually help physicians making difficult triage decisions. It may potentially help address our critical care shortage too," says Chen, who is also a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

ICUs were opened decades ago to care for the sickest patients using the newest technology. Today, critical care in the U.S. costs more than $80 billion a year. With an aging population and growing demand for critical care, the shortage of ICU resources has become a major healthcare issue.

There are other benefits for healthcare institutions that explore the role of health information technology in ICU care. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide financial incentives for providers who show that they are "meaningfully using" electronic health records to improve patient care.

"There are serious incentives for hospitals to use electronic health records in a meaningful way and it's important to identify aspirational goals for health IT now, " Chen says. "We may not have the abilities to achieve all of these goals today, but it's important to put them in place to support a longer term vision of how health IT might transform patient care.
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Contact: Beata Mostafavi
bmostafa@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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