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EMRs Can Improve Outcomes For Weekend Hospital Surgeries

Posted on April 7, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Unfortunately, it’s well documented that people often have worse outcomes when they’re treated in hospitals over the weekend. For example, one recent study from the Association of Academic Physiatrists found that older adults admitted with head trauma over the weekend have a 14 percent increased risk of dying versus those admitted on a weekday.

But if a hospital makes good use of its EMR, these grim stats can be improved, according to a new study published in JAMA Surgery. In the study, researchers found that use of EMRs can significantly improve outcomes for hospital patients who have surgeries over the weekend.

To conduct the study, which was done by Loyola Medicine, a group of researchers identified some EMR characteristics which they felt could overcome the “weekend effect.” The factors they chose included using electronic systems designed to schedule surgeries seamlessly as well as move patients in and out of hospital rooms efficiently.

Their theories were based on existing research suggesting that patients at hospitals with electronic operating room scheduling were 33 percent less likely to experience a weekend effect than hospitals using paper-based scheduling. In addition, studies concluded patients at hospitals with electronic bed-management systems were 35 percent less likely to experience the weekend effect.

To learn more about the weekend effect, researchers analyzed the records provided by the AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Database.  Researchers looked at treatment and outcomes for 2,979 patients admitted to Florida hospitals for appendectomies, acute hernia repairs and gallbladder removals.

The research team found that 32 percent (946) of patients experienced the weekend effect, which they defined as having longer hospital stays than expected. Meanwhile, it concluded that patients at hospitals with high-speed EMR connectivity, EMR in the operating room, electronic operating room scheduling, CPOE systems and electronic bed management did better. (The analysis was conducted with the help of Loyola’s predictive analytics program.)

Their research follows on a 2015 Loyola study, published in Annals of Surgery, which named five factors that reduced the impact of the weekend effect. These included full adoption of electronic medical records, home health programs, pain management programs, increased registered nurse-to-bed ratios and inpatient physical rehabilitation.

Generally speaking, the study results offer good news, as they fulfill some the key hopes hospitals had when installing their EMR in the first place. But I was left wondering whether the study conflated cause and effect. Specifically, I found myself wondering whether hospitals with these various systems boosted their outcomes with technology, or whether hospitals that invested in these technologies could afford to provide better overall care.

It’s also worth noting that several of the improvement factors cited in the 2015 study did not involve technology at all. Even if a hospital has excellent IT systems in place, putting home health, pain management and physical rehabilitation in place – not to mention higher nurse-to-patient ratios – calls for different thinking and a different source of funding.

Still, it’s always good to know that health IT can generate beneficial results, especially high-ticket items like EMRs. Even incremental progress is still progress.

mHealth Technology Market Exploding

Posted on June 13, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Driven largely by the growth in remote patient monitoring, the mobile health marketing is expanding rapidly, with the global market expected to reach $10.2 billion USD by 2018, according to Transparency Market Research.

According to TMR, the global mHealth market added up to just $1.3 billion in 2012, but should grow at a compound annual growth rate of 41.5 percent through 2018, with monitoring services contributing heavily to the total.

According to the researchers, the global mHealth market’s explosion is being driven by factors such as growing adoption of smartphones and the rising incidence of chronic diseases.  Also, the incredible growth in the availability of smartphone applications has created new channels for communication between patients and healthcare providers, a connection which further feeds the emergence of new applications.

According to TMR’s analysis, remote monitoring services currently make up the largest share of the global mHealth market, or about 63 percent, followed by diagnostic services and healthcare systems strengthening. And monitoring services will continue to be the fastest growing segment in global mHealth, given this technology’s ability to help ameliorate acute conditions such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, and congestive heart failure, the group notes.

These findings are underscored by related figures from Kalorama Information, which just released a report tagging the telemedicine patient monitoring market as having grown from $4.2 billion in 2007 to over $10 billion in 2012.

While they’re are clearly engaged in some forms of remote monitoring here and there, this approach is still at an early stage for most hospitals, as reimbursement for hospital-based remote monitoring is scant or non-existent in some cases, Kalorama notes.

However, the home healthcare and remote location health monitoring markets are already well-positioned to grow, and are poised to expand using wireless, handheld and ambulatory devices that replace older monitoring equipment, Kalorama researchers say.