February 23, 2012 – One of the keys to reducing unnecessary admissions is by monitoring gaps in care of at-risk patients. At Geisinger Health System, the task is facilitated by an EHR and an adjoining data warehouse.

Based in Danville, Pa., the four-hospital system uses its warehouse to screen certain categories of patients for missing tests or overdue procedures, then generates auto alerts to physicians assigned to them. “It takes the work off nurses and physicians,” says John Kravitz, associate vice president of IT at Geisinger during a presentation at HIMSS12 on Wednesday.

Geisinger uses the technology to alert patients as well, either firing off reminder letters by mail for non-urgent conditions, or calling patients on the phone for more serious conditions. The health system uses its patient portal to push out visit reminders to 170,000 patients as well.

Geisinger has documented quality improvements since adding the warehouse in 2009, Kravitz notes. Among a group of 23,000 diabetic patients, nearly half now keep their blood sugar levels under control, he noted, compared with about one-third prior to the notification program. The health system has also seen improvement in its preventive health services, such as mammograms.

Since 2010, Geisinger has identified and corrected nearly 20,000 care gaps, resulting in an estimated savings of $4 million, he said. The health system’s next step is to build out the technology to community physicians not employed by Geisinger. That will happen via a health information exchange.

This story originally appeared at Health Data Management.

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