Washington, D. C. - Health insurance plans are advancing information technology (IT) on many fronts, and in the process are achieving impressive results in health care quality, service, cost, and efficiency, according to a report issued by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a Washington, D.C., national trade association. "Innovations in Health Information Technology" profiles more than 40 innovations in the use of health IT that address a variety of healthcare system needs with effective new solutions.

"America's Health Insurance Plans are investing in the innovations in information technology included in our new report because they recognize the improvements that can be achieved," said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni in a release. "Advances in information technology can help ensure that the best of the U.S. health care system will also be its norm."

The health insurance plan community has a tradition of sharing information about emerging and best practices that can spur others in the field to continue to raise the bar. In addition, the industry plans to circulate the report to policymakers, colleague organizations, and providers of health care.

The companies profiled in AHIP's report have applied information technology to a wide ranging set of challenges and opportunities.

For example, a Florida health insurance plan located in a community with a shortage of critical care physicians has established an electronic intensive care unit (e-ICU) in its three participating hospitals. This advanced technology system allows specially trained critical care physicians and nurses to monitor ICU patients on a 24/7 basis from a remote location. The system alerts onsite medical teams of potentially detrimental changes so they can intervene immediately to avert crises.

Another example involved three health insurance plans in Massachusetts that have joined forces to jump-start use of e-prescribing technology by physicians throughout the state. A handheld device enables physicians to access patients/medication histories, check for potentially harmful drug allergies and adverse interactions, and create and renew prescriptions electronically. The program promotes patients' safety and helps avoid errors caused by illegible handwriting.

Finally, perhaps no IT initiative offers more promise or has acquired more urgency in the wake of recent events than the development and implementation of electronic personal health records (PHRs), an electronic record of an individual's health and care that compiles information across time and providers, said the report.

A number of pioneering approaches to PHRs are profiled in a section of the IT report, which explains how health insurance plans are developing PHRs and other forms of electronic health records.

Source: PR Newswire



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