Reducing Hospital Costs and over Utilization with Technology

IllumiCare®, in partnership with the Texas Hospital Association, collaborated with Parkland Health and Hospital System (“Parkland”) to implement the Smart Ribbon® within their inpatient health system. Parkland engaged in a rigorous pilot study to compare physicians who used the Smart Ribbon against their historical behavior and then versus non-user Parkland physicians as a control group. The project resulted in a $430,444 savings and an ROI greater than 1000%. IllumiCare is an EMR-agnostic “ribbon of information” that displays patient-specific, real-time, hospital wholesale costs of medications, labs and imaging, as well as iatrogenic risks, concurrent with the electronic medical record (Epic Systems, Madison, WI).

There is a well-documented “recent trend of over-diagnosis, over-investigation and over-treatment of patients.” Costs caused by the inappropriate and avoidable use of medicines in the US were in excess of 200 billion dollars in 2012. This amount was equal to 8% of total healthcare spending. Excessive lab testing is another element of this process. According to one study, laboratory testing has been on an “unrelenting rise” for decades relative to the number of patient visits. In terms of radiology tests, the average American’s medical radiation dose has grown six-fold over the last couple of decades.

A number of studies have been conducted to determine whether physicians and other medical professionals have a sufficient level of knowledge about, and the ability to correctly estimate, healthcare costs. One study found that costs of prescription drugs were estimated correctly less than half of the time. Another study revealed that eighty percent (80%) of physicians were unable to accurately estimate the cost of medical tests and none of the physicians estimated with greater than fifty-percent (50%) accuracy. Further, the level of experience or seniority of the medical provider has been shown to have no effect on the ability of the provider to accurately estimate costs. One report concluded, that while most physicians indicated they “should consider cost in their decision making,” they “have a limited knowledge of cost estimates.

The implementation of the Smart Ribbon powered by IllumiCare at Parkland Hospital was a catalyst for change in the delivery of inpatient services. The successful pilot showed greater than 1,000% project return and has caused the leadership of Parkland to expand the service from the initial 55 pilot providers to the entire medical staff including consideration of expanding to the ambulatory setting as well.

Craig Maxey, MSHA, MBA, MOR, CAP

VP, Customer Success



The detailed Parkland whitepaper and a short video demonstration can be seen at


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