The battle against sepsis should include data and analytics

Sepsis—or blood poisoning—is the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, costing health care organizations more than $20 billion annually, according to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Even worse, nearly 50 percent of the people who develop septic shock will die.

Health care organizations, including Saint Thomas Health, a ministry of Ascension Health, are using clinical and financial data in the fight against sepsis. It is one way Saint Thomas is participating in a worldwide initiative founded by the Society for Clinical Care Medicine called Surviving Sepsis. The goal: reduce sepsis mortality rates by 25 percent worldwide, which could save 400,000 lives.

To attack a problem of such proportions, Saint Thomas Health leaders wanted to better utilize large volumes of data to support analytics that would identify sepsis patients, track their progress, and create protocols to help reduce the overall number of cases – and subsequent costs.

Saint Thomas Health took a unique approach by creating early-warning sepsis alerts within its electronic health record to proactively identify sepsis patients. Data is imported into a sophisticated analytics engine, where reports can be generated to compare outcomes between patients with an alert and those without.

Such alerts not only benefit the patients, but also allow Saint Thomas Health clinical leaders to better educate staff on signs and symptoms of potential sepsis patients.

In addition to working with Surviving Sepsis campaign elements, Saint Thomas’ parent company, Ascension Health, is also striving to attain High Reliability Organization (HRO) status that denotes a rigorous emphasis on patient safety. Such organizations have exceptionally consistent systems that help meet patient care goals and, more importantly, avert catastrophic errors.

In the next post, we’ll discuss the impact Saint Thomas Health’s sepsis program has had and next steps in creating long-term results.

To read the entire story about Saint Thomas Health’s fight against sepsis, download the full case study.

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