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'Wired' Hospitals Post Lower Death, Complication Rates
Date:1/27/2009

But researchers note system chosen needs to match needs, culture of staff

TUESDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The more "wired" a hospital is, the lower its rate of patient deaths and complications, a new study finds.

Automating hospital information systems also saves centers money, the researchers report.

Although there are many kinks to be worked out, said Devon M. Herrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas, "I assume that over the course of the next few years, with or without the government's prodding, that we will begin to integrate this more and more, because it is a good idea, but I think there will be some growing pains about which system and how and whether it talks to neighboring hospitals and so on."

There will be not only growing pains, but often astronomical start-up costs as well.

There are high hopes that health information technology systems will help with the health-care reform advocated by President Barack Obama.

Yet there have been few comprehensive studies testing these beliefs, said the authors of a study in the Jan. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Only about one-quarter of hospitals have some type of emergency medical records, and 5 percent have physician order entry, or "medical-record-lite," Herrick said.

Health information technologies include four main categories, the researchers stated: notes and records (case histories, admission histories, etc.), test results, order entry, and decision support (for example, information a doctor factors into a treatment decision).

"Every day there are more innovations [in medicine], more evidence-based guidelines. For a single physician to keep track of that is difficult," said study author Dr. Ruben Amarasingham, associate chief of medicine at Parkland Health & Hospital System and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas Sout
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