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Open Access Technical advance

Community wide electronic distribution of summary health care utilization data

Ronald J Lagoe1* and Gert P Westert2

Author Affiliations

1 Hospital Executive Council, Syracuse, New York, USA

2 National Institute of Public Health, and the Environment Bilthoven, Netherlands

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2006, 6:17  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-6-17

Published: 20 March 2006

Abstract

Background

In recent years, the use of digital technology has supported widespread sharing of electronic health care data. Although this approach holds considerable promise, it promises to be a complicated and expensive undertaking. This study described the development and implementation of a community wide system for electronic sharing of summary health care utilization data.

Methods

The development of the community wide data system focused on the following objectives: ongoing monitoring of the health care system, evaluation of community wide individual provider initiatives, identification and development of new initiatives.

The system focused on the sharing of data related to hospital acute care, emergency medical services, long term care, and mental health. It was based on the daily distribution of reports among all health care providers related to these services.

Results

The development of the summary reports concerning health care utilization produced a system wide view of health care in Syracuse, New York on a daily basis. It was not possible to isolate the results of these reports because of the impact of specific projects and other factors. At the same time, the reports were associated with reduction of hospital inpatient stays, improvement of access to hospital emergency departments, reductions in stays for patients discharged to nursing homes, and increased access of mental health patients to hospital inpatient units.

Conclusion

The implementation of the system demonstrated that summary electronic utilization data could provide daily information that would support the improvement of health care outcomes and efficiency. This approach could be implemented in a simple, direct manner with minimal expenses.