How health IT and data analytics will help clinicians improve antibiotic stewardship

As the healthcare industry grapples with the cumbersome task of antibiotic resistance, data analytics is poised to take on a critical support role.

Federal regulators and national accreditors are putting more pressure on hospitals to create antibiotic stewardship programs. Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) hinted that it would begin requiring hospitals to conduct antibiotic resistance surveillance and prevention efforts.

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Hospital leaders and infectious disease clinicians won’t be able to wrap their arms around the complex issue without the right data, Debra Goff, a clinical associate professor and infectious disease specialist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, wrote in Infectious Disease News. Hospital IT teams can provide clinicians with “actionable information” to prioritize intervention in high-priority patients, integrate lab information into EHRs and provide metrics to clinical leaders that demonstrate the value of the program.

“I seldom attend a hospital meeting without the IT team present because they hold the key to long-term success through data collection and analysis,” Goff wrote. “IT helps us to determine appropriate use of antimicrobials and to execute against stewardship priorities by analyzing and reporting data that reinforce the impact of the program.”

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As antibiotic resistance has become a growing concern among medical professionals, access to real-time data has emerged as a critical element of many stewardship programs. In a new framework released last fall, the CDC highlighted prescribing data tracking as a way to identify physicians that need to reevaluate their prescribing practices.