Now Reading: Health Information Technology can Improve the Care of Populations (going to Portland to see how it does)

One of the areas of electronic health records that tends to be underemphasized in implementation but definitely desired in practice is the ability to do more than take care of one patient at a time, and take care of patients that aren’t physically in front of you, so that they don’t have to use the health system if they don’t need it.

Two studies published in October by colleagues in the Northwest Permanente Medical Group, serving Kaiser Permanente members in Oregon and Washington States, show how this is being done successfully, using a Population Management / Panel Support Tool that they developed. Here’s what it does:

The Panel Support Tool (PST), also known as the Population Management Tool—that optimally provides all 3 functions necessary to improve health care: (1) robust and relevant point of care reminders, (2) patient registries with immediate data avail- ability, and (3) continuous performance feedback.

It also gets results – The study looked at 13 different care recommendations and found that after 20 months, the PST improved performance from 72.9 percent to an average of 80 percent.

This is remarkable to people who understand electronic health record systems, because this typically hasn’t been their strong point. The authors have included helpful screen shots and descriptions of the system so you can see for yourself.

I’m posting these articles now because I am off to Portland, Oregon to see physicians and nurses using this system in the care of patients. More to come this week.


Ted Eytan, MD