EHRS + Clinical Prediction Rules = Better Outcomes + Reduced Costs?
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Of course, the road so far has not been particularly smooth (and you thought you had a tight deadline building that website for your brand, huh). But if we pull back and look at the foundational changes happening in the system, there are tremendous signals of hope that the new healthcare future will drive significantly better patient health outcomes at dramatically lower costs.
A key driver of this optimistic outlook is the intersection of two rapidly growing trends: the rapid adoption of EHRs and the maturing of clinical algorithms that leverage actual patient data from EHRs to provide probabilistic guidance to healthcare providers in real time.
We have all seen the data on the dramatic adoption of EHRs in the US, primarily driven by the current incentives and upcoming penalties related to meaningful use. All good. Yet under the surface is a massive opportunity for EHR data to be leveraged in the clinical setting to improve patient outcomes, yes improve outcomes. The data on you and me in EHRs will include (over time) all our symptoms, lab results, diagnoses, treatments, and how we’ve responded to treatment pathways. The real power of the EHRs will be in leveraging that data in real-time as input to clinical prediction algorithms that will help the provider diagnose you more accurately the first time, with fewer trial and error cycles, fewer lab tests, and fewer office visits…all based on the detailed data and nuances found in your clinical data.
Over the last few months, the results of a series of randomized clinical studies have been published, indicating that while this type of approach is still “early”, it has demonstrated improved outcomes and reduced costs across conditions such as streptococcal pharyngitis and pneumonia (by Mount Sinai's Division of General Internal Medicine as published in JAMA Internal Medicine, September 2013).
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So while we are still in the very early stages of our healthcare system’s transformation to the new healthcare future, there are many strong and positive indicators of hope that, as an industry, we can dramatically improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, at the same time.