When I was ten years old, my older sister, suffering from pneumonia, fell to the floor of our home shower.
Three weeks earlier, she had gone to the doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms and a high fever. She was treated for an ear infection with a gentle antibiotic. Three weeks later, I was running to the kitchen to have my grandmother call 9-1-1 emergency assistance.
In those three short weeks between her misdiagnosis and proper treatment, my sister’s pneumonia escalated, and her illness developed into a bacterial and viral infection, causing lung damage and chronic asthma.
It took her more than a month to bounce back.
Mercy: Dedicated to improving patient outcomes
Mercy, the fifth-largest Catholic health care system in the U.S., is dedicating efforts to ensure that situations like my sister’s never happen. Mercy has recognized the opportunity to improve the quality of care and cut costs by employing standardization, noting that much of the inefficiency in healthcare can be contributed to failures in care delivery, care coordination, and overtreatment.
The organization is focusing on applying evidence-based practice to everyday care of common conditions. Mercy is the proud winner of a 2016 SAP HANA Innovation Award and the HIMSS 2016 Enterprise Davies Award thanks to its use of innovation and advanced technology to not only save lives, but also cut costs. These are just a couple examples of the awards and recognition that Mercy has received for its innovative approach to patient care.
Relief for pneumonia and more
Prior to its commitment to innovating with advanced technology, Mercy’s mortality rate for pneumonia patients was at or above the national rate, ranging between 4%-5%. Through digital technology, Mercy reduced pneumonia mortality rates to less than half the national average and decreased the time pneumonia patients receive antibiotics.
As my sister’s case shows, delayed treatment of pneumonia can cause serious complications, including lung damage, asthma, viral infections, or worse.
Mercy also ran three additional use cases with its new technology, decreasing the time to administer a diuretic to patients with heart failure by nearly three hours. The clinical process helped Mercy lower mortality rates to less than half the national average for heart failure patients.
Mercy also achieved a cost reduction of $9.42 million by eliminating the use of certain surgical products based on data that established best practices across all surgical departments. And by improving its clinical documentation to ensure that physicians properly capture clinical diagnosis, the organization has increased revenue by $65 million.
HIMSS 2017: Medication optimization
At HIMSS 2017, Jamie Oswald (MBA, MIM, manager, data analytics & engineering, Mercy) and Kerry Bommarito, PhD (MPH, performance analyst) shared insight into a new project that the organization is running.
By using historical transaction data, Mercy leveraged an analytics portfolio to create time-series models for each medication in its dispensing cabinets. These models forecast future inventory needs so that the organization can predict demand fluctuations, manage resources, and provide top-quality care for patients.
In some cases—for example, the antibiotic Cefazolin—Mercy is able to forecast usage hikes during peak seasons such as spring months.
The predictive piece, in which all resulting forecasts are written into a table through an in-memory computing platform, tells Mercy how to customize its stock of Omnicell cabinets at each location for each time of year. This reduces the risk of shortages to provide the best patient care and reduce excess inventory.
I’m looking forward to HIMSS 2018, where I hope to hear results on this use case. I’m sure by then Mercy will have won more awards for its outstanding use of healthcare innovation to improve patient outcomes.
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