Using electronic health records and analytics, Mercy launched initiatives to both improve patient care and reduce unnecessary expenditures.

Achievements in four specific areas have produced millions of dollars in savings for Mercy, the fifth largest Catholic healthcare system in the nation. Results were impressive enough to merit Mercy’s selection as a 2016 Enterprise Davies Award recipient.

The award, from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, recognizes Mercy for achievements in four case studies it submitted that detailed how the use of health information technology and standardized clinical processes have improved patient care and the bottom line.

Those positive results have energized Mercy to expand the use of analytics to gain intelligence out of the massive amounts of data the integrated delivery system is able to collect, says Gil Hoffman, its CIO.

“These projects demonstrate to us the value of real-time data and confirm the value of the investments we’re making in all of our analytics,” Hoffman says. “We’re seeing how to change all our operations to improve the entire patient experience—how can we take better advantage of this analytics platform that we’ve built.”

Receiving the Enterprise Davies award “is kind of the proof in the pudding of what we can do and how big the potential is,” Hoffman adds. “We want to use data to change from sickness care to really true healthcare. This was the start for us and by no means are we done; this just got us energized.”

Mercy Hospital Joplin, which opened in early 2015, brings Mercy's award-winning technology to patients.
Mercy Hospital Joplin, which opened in early 2015, brings Mercy's award-winning technology to patients.

Also See: Horizon Family Medical Group earns Davies award

Mercy operates 43 acute-care and specialty hospitals and more than 700 practices in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, as well as outreach ministries in three other states.

In its nomination for the Davies award, it noted its use of information technology in four separate use cases that highlighted either care improvements or efficiency gains. They demonstrate how IT and standardized clinical processes brought benefits for the organization.

In one, it reduced by nearly three hours the time it takes to administer a diuretic to patients with heart failure. Doing that helps control patients’ blood pressure by reducing unnecessary salt and water in their bodies through increased urine production. The clinical process helped Mercy achieve mortality rates that are less than half the national average for heart failure patients.

A second case study showed how Mercy used its information technology system to cut pneumonia mortality rates to less than half the national average and reduced the time it takes for patients with pneumonia to receive antibiotics.

In its analytics efforts, Mercy is using surgical procedure data to help achieve $9.4 million in cost reductions, eliminating or minimizing the use of certain surgical products; reducing variations in surgical protocols; establishing best practices across surgical departments; and ensuring quality post-operative results for patients.

Finally, its last case study shows how the system was able to make improvements in clinical documentation to ensure physicians properly capture a clinical diagnosis. That collaborative effort enabled Mercy to realize $65 million in additional revenue.

Also See: Hawaiian health system again wins HIMSS Davies Award

The Davies requires “a lot of evidence associated with the projects, and you have clinical professionals taking a look at them and examining the evidence,” Hoffman says. “We’re proud about (winning) because there’s a tremendous amount of scrutiny, and all the projects stood up to that and clearly delivered.”

Applying for the Davies award was a significant effort that took the organization more than a year, Hoffman says, with coordinated efforts between its IT staff, clinical staff and others.

“Mercy has long been focused on bringing together all aspects of healthcare—including clinical, operational, technological and analytical functions—so we can collaborate and determine our best way forward for our patients and our organization,” Hoffman adds. “The Davies Award demonstrates how we’ve been able to blend the best of technology, talent and teamwork to bring better care and better health to our patients.”

Mercy has been able to extend its mission to other healthcare organizations, providing services in supply chain, information technology and virtual care throughout the country.

“That’s part of the ministry vision,” Hoffman says. “We look to share our expertise to help others provide better healthcare. That’s why we’re all in this business. We think about how we can contribute to the bottom line and also to help healthcare everywhere.”

“As a Davies Award recipient, Mercy clearly exemplifies how collaborative teamwork, effective planning, use of health information technology and standardized clinical process changes can result in sustainable improvements in patient care,” said Jonathan French, senior director of quality and patient safety and Davies program director with HIMSS.

Mercy will be recognized as a HIMSS Davies Award recipient at the upcoming 2017 HIMSS Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.

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