Medical informatics vital for continued cost reductions and better health, says report

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According to a new study published by global consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), medical informatics technology is crucial in ensuring improvements to the general population’s health and reducing costs of providing quality care.

The survey polled more than 600 health management professionals and found that 79 percent are looking for clinical informatics technology to help eliminate medical errors, and 52 percent hope that electronic health records will lower operational costs. As well as reducing costs and educating patients about their own care, many facilities are hoping to use medical informatics systems to lower rates of hospital readmission, especially relating to complex conditions such as cancer.

However, one area identified by the study as currently lacking, but yielding potentially significant benefits, is the application of healthcare IT to educating patients on managing a healthy lifestyle. Results of the report indicate that only 15 percent of health insurers and 13 percent of hospitals have been able to leverage the power of technology to educate patients, despite 61 percent of respondents saying this was a primary objective of their healthcare IT strategies.

“Health organizations recognize the value of effective informatics and analytics, but they are struggling to institutionalize the insight, make it actionable and use it for competitive advantage,” Daniel Garrett, practice leader for healthcare IT at PwC, told Healthcare Finance News. “They need strategies for mining data, conducting and integrating evidence-based research, translating findings into practice, and influencing patients to participate in the process.”

Almost 84 percent of participants said the standardization of medical data remained a significant challenge for them, and that healthcare IT vendors, care providers and pharmaceutical companies needed to work together to develop industry standard information formats. Approximately 73 percent of respondents indicated standardizing data will be a major healthcare IT objective for their facilities for the next two years.