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Innovator Semifinalists: Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

January 27, 2014
by Gabriel Perna, Rajiv Leventhal, and Mark Hagland
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Innovation is blossoming everywhere in U.S. healthcare these days, and many leaders in patient care organizations nationwide are pursuing initiatives that are leveraging health information technology to improve patient care quality, patient safety, clinician and staff effectiveness, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and more.

Indeed, we at Healthcare Informatics were delighted by the exceptional quality of the submissions we received from innovating teams from across the country, this year. Below, please find descriptions of the initiatives of the nine teams whom we have awarded semifinalist status in this year’s program. Leaders of these teams, along with leaders of the four finalist teams, will be recognized at the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards Reception, to be held in Orlando on Feb. 24.

Congratulations to all these innovators and their organizations!

  •  Baystate Health (Springfield, Massachusetts)
  •  Care at Home Community Healthcare (Campbell, California)
  •  Children’s Medical Center (Dallas, Texas)
  •  CHRISTUS Health (Dallas, Texas)
  •  Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, Ohio)
  •  North Shore LIJ Health System (Manhasset, New York)
  •  Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago, Illinois)
  •  Penn Medicine (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  •  Rhode Island Quality Institute (Providence, Rhode Island)

We will be announcing the third, co-second, and first place winners over the coming week. In addition, we plan on extending our coverage of these semi-finalist teams in the weeks ahead.

Penn Medicine
At Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, the organization’s IT professionals are leading a project that has built a dashboard for monitoring patients as they are treated for different forms of leukemia. In order to design the translational dashboard tool, the team assessed the clinical workflow of vaccine manufacturing, flow cytometry, and biomarkers, from a process viewpoint, to obtain the needed technical data. As a result, they have enabled the integration of near-real-time health system clinical data, clinical trial management system data, T cell manufacturing data, and patient sample biomarker data into a single operable dashboard.

Rhode Island Quality Institute
The Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI), Providence, is a not-for-profit, community-based organization focused on improving care quality and value in Rhode Island. As part of its mission, RIQI operates the Rhode Island’s statewide health information exchange (HIE), CurrentCare. In that context, RIQI has developed and implemented Hospital Alerts, a program in which CurrentCare monitors the information coming in from hospitals and emergency departments, looking for admissions and discharges of patients enrolled in CurrentCare, and automatically sending a Direct message to the primary care physician, when an event occurs, letting the PCP know about the patient’s health event.

North Shore-LIJ Health System
A team at North Shore-LIJ Health System, a health system based out of Manhasset, N.Y., is leading the way in improving care management for high-risk pregnancies. The team, led by Michael Oppenheim, M.D., CMIO at North Shore-LIJ, created an interoperable comprehensive prenatal care record with data derived from multiple outpatient EHRs and prenatal imaging centers. It is shared by outpatient providers during the prenatal period and to Labor and Delivery (L&D) to support intrapartum care.

“Given the number of different specialists involved in the care of the high-risk mother, and the importance of communication between those providers in the prenatal period the criticality of that information to support the patient during Labor and Delivery, High Risk Pregnancy was the ideal clinical entity to focus on,” Oppenheim says.

Baystate Medical Center
Labor is similarly the focus for leaders at the Springfield Mass.-based research and teaching hospital, Baystate Medical Center. The hospital used a perinatal-specific EHR to successfully institute a hard-stop policy eliminating the procedures of elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks of gestation and elective inductions of labor in patients at increased risk for cesarean deliveries. They tracked each birth delivery and induction and stratifying all patient types and situations.

“In the new healthcare environment, there has been a push to decrease the length of stay. Patients undergoing prolonged elective inductions often have longer hospital stays than their counterparts who are admitted in spontaneous labor. Furthermore, a significant percentage of patients who undergo elective induction of labor wind up requiring a cesarean section, which further increases the length of stay,” says Andrew Healy, M.D., medical director of obstetrics at Baystate Health.

Care at Home Health
Care at Home Health, a home health agency in Campbell, Calif., created a mobile application that supports caregiver safety. Teaming with San Mateo, Calif.-based AtHoc, Care at Home created an app that allows for improved care coordination within an industry that operates in silos. It allows on-site visitors to communicate with the home office in the case of a safety/security event, and to report results of a visit.
“Home healthcare is a rapidly growing, $100-plus billion market, but care provision poses significant communication and care coordination challenges: instead of working in the physical confines of a hospital or outpatient facility, home healthcare clinicians are mobile and distributed over large geographies,” says Jason Grinstead, president at Care at Home.

CHRISTUS Health
In August 2012, CHRISTUS Health in Texarkana, Texas partnered with the Plano, Texas-based Vivify Health and AT&T to use a remote patient monitoring solution (RPMS), which helps engage patients and family members in their own care, while involving healthcare providers through integration with their clinical information systems.

“The RPMS allows the certified care transition nurse (CTN) to customize care plans on an individual basis, provide real-time collection and secure transmission of data, and promote virtual interaction with the patient for purposes of real-time health assessments and intervention,” says Shannon Clifton, director, connected care at CHRISTUS Health. “This process will eliminate home visits, which improves program efficiency by returning the CTN to bed-side, thus available to enroll and transition more patients,” she adds.

Children’s Medical Center Dallas
As part of its telemedicine initiative, the 595-bed Texas-based Children’s Medical Center Dallas deployed the TeleNICU (neonatal intensive care unit) in 2013 in order to meet the demand for access to pediatric subspecialists which is a problem in the state of Texas, says Jeff Blythe, the organization’s information systems communications manager.

“Children’s TeleNICU program is unique in that it is not just a videoconferencing system between patients and doctors—the program consists of fully dedicated neonatologists that are on call 24/7 for telemedicine consults,” says Blythe. In addition, the technology and equipment used within the program allows Children’s to connect and consult with other hospital NICUs located anywhere within the state of Texas and beyond, he says.

Cleveland Clinic
Leaders at the Cleveland Clinic, the integrated health system in northern Ohio, have long believed in leveraging their investment into its electronic health record (EHR). WellQ is an EHR integrated patient-entered data solution that allows patients, through a user interface, to answer simple questions about their overall health and well-being in wellness realms: COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)/smoking; sleep; depression; nutrition; exercise; and stress.

The most notable outcomes were related to COPD and smoking, says Beth Meese, Manager, Clinical Solutions Center. For smoking/COPD patients, smoking history was considered against three nationally recognized questions related to COPD diagnosis—cough, phlegm/sputum, and activity level. Upon review of the high-risk patients, 55 percent were consulted to smoking cessation and 46 percent were ordered testing for spirometry. These are patients who had previously gone unrecognized for combined symptoms of COPD, and are now undergoing evaluation leading to treatment, says Meese. “This solution is changing people’s lives,” she says.

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have developed a coordinated system of information to resolve the problem of variable, poor-quality information provided to patients from medical and pharmacy practices. The result has been a Universal Medication Schedule that standardizes and simplifies medication instructions, by standardizing the prescribing and dispensing of medicine by using health literacy principles and more explicit times to describe when to take medicines. This eliminates the widely reported variability found in the ways in which prescriptions are written by physicians and transcribed by pharmacists onto drug bottle labels.


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