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Opinion: Leverage HIT to Improve Care Management

By Jane Metzger and David Classen, for HealthLeaders Media, August 5, 2011

One of the highest priority targets for leveraging the EHR to enable better care management, sepsis, provides an excellent example of how this should work because hours, even minutes, matter in preventing or ameliorating resulting major organ dysfunction in at-risk patients. Sepsis is the biggest cause of death in hospital ICUs and many cases are preventable.

Efforts such as the Surviving Sepsis Campaign provide the basis for algorithms that can be used for early identification of at-risk patients and to check for consistent use of protocols for prevention and treatment.

Next-generation care management will require the coordinated action of different participants, each supported by the EHR according to their role, as described below for sepsis.

*May be led by hospitalist or Infectious Disease team

+Or other individual or staff responsible for patient tracking and quality reporting.

In many high-risk situations in hospital care (as in the example involving sepsis), there are many factors to be considered in detection and treatment, new information becomes available every few minutes, and quick recognition and intervention is critical to the best possible outcome for the patient. This type of situation with a large and constantly updated data set, complex logic, and the need to continually reevaluate is where computers excel.

Put to work in this way, the EHR will enable next-generation quality management at the bedside.

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