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By focusing on quality processes for health care, national health care costs could be reduced by 20 percent, says an official of Intermountain Health Care.

"My bottom line is we have the real potential to improve quality while improving costs. It doesn't solve our health care crisis but it helps," Greg Poulsen, IHC vice president for research and planning, told the League of Women Voters of Salt Lake at a meeting Tuesday.Poulsen suggested that instead of just eliminating the practices that aren't working, hospitals should study and communicate with each other about the best methods for specific medical procedures and then implement those methods.

The focus should be "studying what the best people do right instead of what the bad people do wrong," he said.

As an example, Poulsen said, LDS Hospital had a 1.8 percent infection rate from operations, which is lower than the national average. By focusing on the process of reducing infections by administering antibiotics to patients two hours before an operation so the antibiotics would have time to start working, the infection rate dropped to 0.04 percent, and the hospital saved $714,000 in 1991.