“What really sold us on Health Catalyst was its proven ability to help healthcare organizations build a data-driven culture of systematic quality improvement.”
—J. Kevin Croston, MD, Chief Medical Officer at North Memorial
- Reduced the health system’s rate of elective early-term deliveries by nearly 75 percent in just six months
- Pre-39-week surgeries plummeted from 1.2 percent to just 0.3 percent, shattering the payer’s goal of 0.6 percent and earning North Memorial a $200,000 bonus payment.
Like many health systems, North Memorial Health Care in the Northwest metro area of Minneapolis-St. Paul has spent the last few years battling for financial stability. The 518-bed 2-hospital system has struggled with rising costs, stiff regional pressures from an abundance of formidable competitors, and unpredictable reimbursement amid an uncertain political environment. To make matters worse, the health system was having difficulty collecting and analyzing data from its myriad IT systems, leaving hospital leaders with an incomplete view of their financial pain points and opportunities for improvement.
Amid these difficult market conditions, North Memorial’s leadership determined to chart a path to sustainability. The many tactics they considered had one common thread – all relied on clinical and operational insight that could only come of aggregating data from the health system’s Epic electronic health record (EHR) and other critical IT systems. A search for solutions to accomplish this task led to an adaptive data warehouse from Health Catalyst accompanied by its full-spectrum professional services.
“We selected Catalyst in part because their data warehouse is built on an open architecture that is easily customized, giving us complete flexibility to adapt to current and future needs,” said J. Kevin Croston, MD, chief medical officer at North Memorial. “We aren’t locked into a proprietary black box solution or a service that requires us to send data outside of our organization to be analyzed and weeks out of date when returned as canned reports. Instead, Catalyst gives us immediate access to our data and the flexibility to answer questions as needed. And Health Catalyst’s process and approach to building a data-driven culture and quality improvement program is more direct, streamlined, and less cumbersome than their competitors.”
First Target: Women and Newborns
“We wouldn’t have had a chance to do some of the things we’ve done in last 18 months to enhance care, reduce waste and lower costs without Catalyst. It’s amazing how differently and effectively we can gather and use data now.”
—Jon Nielsen, MD, Medical Director Women’s and Newborns service at North Memorial Health Care
After using Health Catalyst technology to analyze its total resources consumed, variation in care and cultural readiness, North Memorial’s leadership selected the Women and Newborns department as the first target for the new data-powered quality improvement process. Within the department, the health system identified elective deliveries occurring prior to 39 weeks of gestation as the care process with the greatest opportunity for improvement and financial return. OB studies have shown that elective deliveries before 39 weeks increase the risk of newborn respiratory distress as well as increase the rates of C-sections where there is a higher rate of postpartum anemia and longer lengths-of-stay for both mothers and babies. Further incentive for focusing on early-term deliveries came from a savings agreement with a payer partner that promised to pay North Memorial a significant bonus in return for lowering its rate of pre-39-week deliveries by half, from 1.2 percent of all deliveries to 0.6 percent.
“We decided to address early-term deliveries first because, while our elective delivery rate of 1.2 percent was relatively low by other hospitals’ standards, we felt there was still opportunity there for reduction and clinicians in that group were culturally ready and had embraced quality improvement projects in the past,” Dr. Croston said.
Jon Nielsen, MD, medical director of women’s and newborns service at North Memorial, added, “We also wanted a project that we could get up and running quickly. Reducing deliveries before 39 weeks was an excellent launch point because there is significant peer-reviewed research in that area. And if we solved the problem, the scale of the services would allow us to significantly improve care as well as reduce costs quickly.”