In the mid-1990s, everyone knew that health care organizations across the United States were plagued by wasteful spending. The question for Intermountain Healthcare, which serves residents of Utah and Idaho, was where to start looking for savings internally. Data analyses quickly identified the most promising targets: 104 of the 1,440 clinical conditions that Intermountain treated accounted for 95% of the care it provided, and two services—newborn delivery and treatment of ischemic heart disease—accounted for 21% of its work.
Quality-improvement teams focused first on those two services. Armed with a sophisticated electronic health record (EHR) system and a separate information technology system that detailed the costs of activities, the teams used evidence-based guidelines and the experience of Intermountain’s physicians to redesign clinical workflows. The top executives, the board of trustees, physicians, and nurses all worked together to support the drive to improve care. Today more than 60 services have been revamped, and Intermountain is recognized as a national leader in quality improvement and cost management. None of it would have been possible without its IT systems.