Eight 'Pioneers' Demonstrate the Benefits of Health IT

Information technology improves health care efficiency, quality and access, according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The report examines eight pioneering projects completed under AHRQ's Transforming Healthcare Quality Through Information Technology program. Six of the programs emphasized HIT to improve care for such vulnerable populations as minority and low-income groups, the elderly, children and rural communities. Three improved efficiency by reducing emergency department visits or lowering medication costs. Three improved quality, reducing the rate of preventable conditions, increasing the likelihood patients received life-saving treatment, or cutting the rate of a common health care-acquired infection. Projects involved organizations in California, Iowa, Masschusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and New York; one took place in multiple states. Visit www.ahrq.gov.

Tele-ICUs Could Save Hundreds of Lives and Millions of Dollars

Telemedicine in intensive care units could save 350 lives and more than $122 million a year in Masschusetts alone, according to a report released in December by the New England Healthcare Institute and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Researchers analyzed data from a tele-ICU demonstration project at UMass Memorial Medical Center and two community hospitals in Massachusetts. The findings could apply nationally. The report found that mortality dropped 20 percent in the academic medical center and 36 percent at one community hospital because of tele-ICUs; ICU stays fell at all three hospitals; and the hospitals recovered up-front investments for tele-ICUs in about a year. Health insurers saved $2,600 per patient treated via UMass' tele-ICU. The community hospitals were able to retain a substantial portion of patients that otherwise would have to be transferred to teaching hospitals, saving payers about $10,000 per case.—Visit www.nehi.net or www.masstech.org.