As the Affordable Care Act continues to gain traction, some Iowa hospitals are considering using new technology for better patient outcomes.
A new study by the University of Iowa’s Department of Health Care Policy Research and Development and the University at Buffalo’s Center for Health Innovation shows that when hospitals are using new technologies to improve patient outcomes, they save money.
Researchers found that using a device called a heart rate monitor (HRM) in an ER helped improve patients’ quality of life by a significant margin.
HRM devices are used in more than 60 percent of Iowa hospitals, and they can detect heart rate variability, the amount of heart muscle activity in a person’s chest.
In addition, using HRM in the ER decreased hospital wait times by nearly 10 percent.
Researchers also found that patients using HRMs were significantly less likely to have an emergency, or worse, after being admitted.
The study also found HRM device use decreased the hospital’s mortality rate, which is the number of people who die in a hospital emergency.”HRM technology is the most efficient way to reduce ER visit and hospitalization costs,” said Dr. Amy Riehl, a researcher at the University’s Department for Health Policy Research.
“This finding highlights the importance of hospitals using this technology for improving patient outcomes.”
Researchers said the technology could also help hospitals save money by reducing costs of patient services.
“The new study demonstrates the power of HRM technology in the treatment of cardiac arrest and related complications,” said Andrew R. Sacks, an assistant professor of health policy at the UI’s College of Public Health and Health Systems Management.
“We hope that by improving patient-centered care and efficiency, these devices will also improve the health of patients in the general population.”
The study is available online at: http://www.healthpolicy.umich.edu/content/early/2014/12/03/201304031712001.full.aspx?articleid=20257941Researchers also said that using HRMS in the emergency room helped reduce hospital wait time.
“Using a heart monitor to monitor HRM activity can decrease hospital wait, reduce admissions, and lower ER visits,” said Sacks.
“In addition, we found that HRM use significantly reduced emergency department visits and hospitalizations.”
Iowa’s public hospital systems have struggled with their ER capacity.
While hospitals in the state have about 30,000 ER beds, a recent report found that more than a third of those beds are unused.
Iowa is one of the states with the most ER vacancies.
Researchers say that by increasing the availability of ER beds and using technology like HRM, the Iowa health care system can improve its ER capacity by reducing ER wait times.
“A significant part of our effort to improve ER capacity in Iowa is to improve HRM usage, and that will have an impact on the effectiveness of the ER and improve the quality of care delivered in the facility,” said Riehr.
“We also want to increase access to care for the uninsured in the hospital environment and to ensure that patients with chronic health conditions are receiving the care they need.”