Evaluating data’s impact on sepsis care

The previous post introduced Saint Thomas Health’s efforts to use data to reduce sepsis mortality within its patient population. This post will discuss some of the results of the organization’s efforts.

Getting information into the hands of doctors and nurses treating potentially septic patients is key. As important is the collection and analysis of vast volumes of clinical and administrative data to see what protocols work best and how providers should respond to sepsis cases.

Saint Thomas Health, a ministry of Ascension Health, has been diligently working on building knowledge around sepsis care by creating early alerts and analyzing data from various repositories. This robust data collection and evaluation system is showing some significant improvements.

Top of the list is a reduction in sepsis mortality rates at Saint Thomas Health hospitals. For calendar year 2012, mortality for all patients presenting with sepsis was 15.7 percent. In 2014, that rate dropped to 12.4 percent, a decrease of 26.1 percent.

What’s interesting to note is the data showed a slight trend up in sepsis patients’ lengths of stay and overall charges for treatment. That’s to be expected with better identification and monitoring of sepsis cases. By reducing septic mortality rates, Saint Thomas is seeing patients stay longer as they go through treatments; costs for healthcare services increase at the same time. Once sepsis processes and protocols are standardized, length of stay and overall charges should trend back down.

For Saint Thomas Health, the improvements will continue well into the future. They are working with Optum to develop analytics on measuring adherence to sepsis clinical care guidelines to standardize coding, documentation and use of defined protocols across all aspects of an encounter. Reports are being generated to evaluate how individual departments and physicians are dealing with sepsis cases to ensure standardized treatment every time.

To win the battle against sepsis, Saint Thomas Health leadership knows it will take commitment, attention, and assistance from multiple players. Technology and analytic partners are needed to help determine how to best use administrative and clinical data to build stronger treatment protocols and educate providers about how to best treat this global killer.

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

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