3 ways your organization can leverage health IT to accomplish the triple aim now

Most hospital executives are planning to expand their IT infrastructure over the next few years, but deciding which solutions to prioritize can sometimes be difficult.

Healthcare organizations used to be considered ahead of the curve if they used an EHR, but today, there are dozens of technologies that hospitals are beginning to implement to modernize their technology. The financial threshold for becoming a "modern" hospital is thus climbing, and executives may be nervous about their budgets tightening.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association discusses the challenges to health IT and suggested several way that hospitals can use their current IT systems to accomplish the triple aim of better care and improved outcomes at lower costs. Here are three suggestions.

1. Switching patients to cheaper alternative medications: Programs that display drug-drug interactions and common side effects provide physicians with more information about medication behavior than ever. Finding an alternative medication to fill a need that is available for less is one function of these databases.

2. Responding to new medication safety concerns: Electronic systems receive alerts about potential dangers from new pharmaceuticals much more quickly than sending out memos or reading recall notices. They also calculate the risks of drug-drug interactions and allow physicians to gauge whether they should place a patient on a new prescription.

3. Using EHR-derived data to prioritize, support and monitor quality improvement efforts: Managing high-cost, high-risk patients with long-term conditions is difficult through plain records, but using data pulled from those records to compare conditions and take snapshots of an individual's health provides a more complete picture. Analytics are the next step, but even rudimentary decision support systems can help indicate measures of a patient with a chronic condition over time.

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