Study: health informatics tools can help prevent infant mortality

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A recent study in the Journal of Political Economy shows that if 10 percent more hospitals used basic electronic medical records (EMRs), it would save 16 babies for every 100,000 live births. If every hospital in the country switched to the health informatics system, it would prevent 6,400 infants from dying each year.

The deaths of infants could largely be prevented by using these tools because EMRs make it easier for obstetricians to coordinate care and identify high-risk pregnancies. This may be important, as researchers said that about 18,000 American babies die within 28 days of birth each year. The statistic places the U.S. 43rd in international infant mortality rates.

Other doctors have also praised the technology because it can cut hospital costs. Authors of the report Catherine Tucker, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Amalia Miller, of the University of Virginia, estimate that saving an infant’s life costs $531,000 with EMR systems. In the 1980’s, it would cost $840,000 to save an infant using Medicaid coverage.