Using Technology as a Road Map: Hurley Drives Innovations in Patient Care

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A sign of the times in modern healthcare is that more and more providers are harnessing technology to support optimized patient care through digital health innovations like the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM). EMRAM incorporates algorithms to score the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) capabilities of hospitals around the world. Through this model, Stage 7 validated hospitals like Hurley Medical Center have been able to drive innovation, increase operational efficiency and often bypass costly investments in favor of simple process changes that achieve their end goals just as well. When Hurley Medical Center first received its Stage 7 validation, only 5 percent of hospitals across the country could make that claim. Of those, most had far more resources and access to capital than Hurley. Today, providers that have achieved Stage 7 validation still form an elite group, yet their number has crept up to 6.4 percent of healthcare systems. This illustrates the growing trend of using strategic IT investments to improve patient outcomes.

“Stage 7 itself is not an award,” said President & CEO of Hurley Medical Center Melany Gavulic. “Being verified as a HIMSS Stage 7 hospital indicates that we have a near paperless environment, utilizing and continuously innovating our electronic medical record to provide efficient, high quality and safe patient care.”

While fulfilling the criteria for validation requires a significant buy-in and collaboration from clinical and business leadership across the organization, the result is a staff united in the pursuit of quality improvement. It also stands as an ongoing opportunity to reinforce the message that constantly improving process and technology leads to better patient care. Streamlined workflows and communication follow, resulting in further operational efficiencies.

Along the road to their EMRAM implementation, for instance, Hurley was able to leverage its health IT systems in order to improve communications and patient satisfaction with the ASL-speaking community. Part of their inclusive patient communication strategy included developing an interpreter services program that could be integrated with their EMR system. In this way, interpreter services were immediately made aware of a patient’s needs and as a result were better equipped to monitor those needs moving forward. Since the inception of the program, annual visits for this specific patient population have increased by 35 percent.

When the process is understood as more of a journey than a destination, surprising benefits unfold. In the case of Hurley, after implementing the new EMR from Epic, the hospital assembled a team from multiple departments to analyze patient movement data. With the help of a daily 28-page report comprised of thousands of data points, the analytics committee could better evaluate and understand the nuances in patient movement from door to discharge. The analysis lead them to concentrate their focus on blocked beds, environmental services turnaround times, bed assignment times and the criticality of patients to identify trends in required accommodations. Armed with this precise strategy, Hurley saw significant improvements in capacity, turnaround time and unit accommodations, including the ability to admit 182 more patients over the course of the year without having to invest in additional beds or bigger facilities.

The analysis also brought about a recommendation to reallocate staff to busier times of day, which reduced the average turnaround time by 12 minutes. By shifting workflow from a series of phone calls to a digital bed request and automated notifications to the receiving unit, Hurley achieved a 20-minute improvement in bed assignment, then kept the momentum going by integrating the EMR with the hospital telephone system. This enabled bed requests to be sent directly to the charge nurse. In short, the data revealed discoveries about improvements that could be made in current processes—and, more importantly, using current resources.

“This is validation of the high-tech innovative work that we’ve done to better serve our community,” said Dr. Michael Roebuck, Chief Medical Information Officer at Hurley Medical Center. “In the past few years we have focused on using our technology to improve our service to our American Sign Language patients, we have written prescriptions for healthy foods at our Farmers’ Market clinic and our own Hurley Food FARMacy and we’ve used data from our system to give feedback to our clinicians to improve the quality of care that we provide.”

It is this combination of IT team fine-tuning applications and clinicians dedicated to using the technology at their fingertips to maximum potential that will ensure that healthcare organizations like Hurley Medical Center are well-positioned to adapt to the evolving demands of healthcare.

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