Health IT Seen as Gateway to Critical Care
Health information technology (IT) can be used effectively to identify the most seriously ill patients and those who would benefit most from critical care in intensive care units, according to authors of a perspective article published on Jan. 30 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
They note that one possible explanation for their findings is that cardiac patients may have a need for critical care that isn't captured by illness severity scores. Other potential explanations are that cardiac patients who need telemetry may be over-represented in the patient population of intensive care units, that cardiac patients were admitted for intensive care because physicians were following a treatment protocol or that these patients were waiting for a transfer to another hospital with interventional services. In addition, physicians may believe that cardiac patients are at higher risk than other patients for sudden and unexpected adverse events, so they routinely admit relatively healthy patients with cardiac illnesses to intensive care units.
As taking care of the sickest patients is the primary role of intensive care units, the authors suggest that additional research is needed to determine which patients benefit from critical care and what indications for admittance to an intensive care unit, other than a patient’s severity of illness, might be valid for admittance. Further, to make sure the sickest patients and those who will benefit most receive critical care in intensive care units, the authors recommended using data from electronic health records to triage patients on admittance to a hospital. "That, we believe, would truly be meaningful use of health IT," they add.
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