Latest Success Stories

Leveraging Risk Assessment to Decrease LOS and Cost for PCI Patients

Percutaneous Cardiac Intervention (PCI) is a minimally-invasive alternative to open heart surgery—a procedure that approximately 600,000 U.S. patients will undergo this year.


Allina Health, a non-profit health system with 90+ clinics and 13 hospitals with locations throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, is a leading provider of the procedure in Minnesota. Allina Health discovered that major bleeding events following PCI procedures (the most common non cardiac complication of PCI), though not affecting mortality, were increasing length of stay (LOS) and cost.


To improve the quality of its PCI procedures and decrease costs, Allina Health recognized the need to accurately assess bleeding risk and then implemented best-practice interventions to prevent major bleeding events.


Already, physicians and patients have seen that these new interventions, which includes a bleeding risk assessment tool, allows clinicians to focus interventions based on risk and reduce complications. The top results from Allina Health’s interventions include:

  • 3 percentage point reduction (a 21.7 percent relative reduction) in complication rate.
  • $1.8M cost savings.
  • 1.4 percentage point reduction (a 36.5 percent relative reduction) in LOS for patients at high risk for bleeding who receive a closure device.
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Data-Driven Approach to Improving Cardiovascular Care and Operations Leads to $75M in Improvements

Health spending in the United States is greater than the gross domestic product of most nations, and the costs for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke care alone total $193.1 billion. CVD accounts for approximately one out of every three deaths in the U.S. and contributes to the shorter life expectancy of Americans. Thirty-five percent of CVD related deaths occur before the age of 75 years, and 19 percent before the age of 65.


Allina Health is a large integrated healthcare delivery network operating in Minnesota and western Wisconsin that includes three large cardiac centers. Due to the prevalence and mortality rate of CVD, leaders at Allina Health recognized that they needed to focus on cardiovascular health in order to truly impact the population health and patient outcomes of the communities they serve.


By leveraging real-time data from its enterprise data warehouse (EDW), Allina Health effectively identified and addressed clinical practice variation and operational issues affecting cardiovascular care and costs. In doing so, the health system realized more than $75 million in performance enhancement savings and revenue increase over a four-year period by focusing on supply chain, lab test and blood utilization, clinical practice changes and clinical documentation improvement.


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A Service Line Approach Improves Women’s Health at UPMC

By the age of 60, more than one-third of women in the United States have had a hysterectomy. Healthcare systems across the country are recognizing that a women’s health service line offers a pathway to improving care and decreasing cost for these patients. Having accurate activity-based costing information is necessary to uncover opportunities for clinical practice improvement and cost reduction.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) made the decision to organize Women’s Health as a service line across the entire health system. UPMC fortified this approach with strong and collaborative leadership, an enterprise data warehouse, and an activity-based cost management system. The results:

  • 20 percent reduction in inpatient length of stay for hysterectomies (over a three-year time period)
  • 34 percent reduction in open hysterectomies
  • 3 percent reduction in 30-day readmissions for hysterectomies

These results were obtained during a time when this clinical service saw a 25 percent improvement in its contribution margin.

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Service Lines and Activity-Based Costing Reveal True Cost of Care for UPMC

Between 2007 and 2014, U.S. healthcare costs per capita increased by almost 25 percent. The way in which health systems are typically organized, managed, and budgeted (as departments and units within separate hospitals) works against them when they attempt to improve population health and decrease costs. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), a large health system with more than 20 hospitals and 500 clinics, was keenly aware of this challenge as it embarked on population health and value-based care initiatives that spanned the entire organization.

The health system determined that it needed to break down the virtual walls between care centers and standardize service lines across the enterprise. By extension, this organizational change mandated the need for activity-based costing in healthcare that would deliver the insight necessary to run a service line effectively. UPMC organized six service lines within the health system, each spearheaded by clinical, operational, and financial leadership. Each service line uses the health system’s innovative, data-driven activity-based costing methodology to understand the true cost of care.

Notable, measurable results of UPMC’s service lines and activity-based costing methodology to date include:

  • $42 million of cost reduction opportunities (approximately 2 percent of targeted service line cost)
  • $5 million in supplies savings
  • Transparency toward identification of contribution margin variation for specific procedures
  • Up to 97 percent improvement in time to access information
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How to Reduce Clinical Variation and Improve Outcomes While Demonstrating a Positive ROI

Clinical variation can be frustrating for patients and their families, often leaving the impression that healthcare team members are not on the same page and don’t agree on the plan for the patient’s diagnosis or treatment. It is also costly—the Institute of Medicine estimates that $265 billion (30 percent) of healthcare spending is waste that directly results from clinical variation.

To reduce unwanted variation, Texas Children’s Hospital invested considerable resources to develop clinical standards tools, including evidence-based order sets; however, demonstrating the effectiveness and utilization of those guidelines, pathways, and order sets had been daunting. To that end, Texas Children’s deployed an analytics platform from Health Catalyst to aggregate and analyze the data needed to perform both of these critical functions.


  • $2,401 reduction in cost per patient with order set utilization, and an 8.4-day difference in average length of stay (LOS).
  • $15 million reduction in total direct variable costs in Fiscal Year 2015, $32 million anticipated reduction in Fiscal Year 2016 at the current order set usage rate, and a potential $64 million annual reduction with a hypothetical 80 percent order set usage rate.
  • 1,629 percent return on investment (ROI).
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Developing a Multilevel Approach to Improving Population Health

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, yet heart attacks are largely preventable through healthier lifestyles. Spurred on by this knowledge, New Ulm Medical Center, the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, and the rural community of New Ulm, Minnesota, teamed up to create Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm (HONU) Project. This population-based prevention demonstration project aims to reduce the number of heart attacks and heart disease risk factors among the New Ulm population.

Recognizing the complex web of personal, institutional, and societal factors that influence an individual’s heart-health behaviors, HONU leaders implemented a multilevel strategy spanning 10 years to improve the health of the entire population.

The HONU Project’s multilevel, data-driven approach has resulted in substantial changes in improving population health in New Ulm:

  • 86 percent of residents now have blood pressure within the recommended range
  • 72 percent have LDL cholesterol within the recommended range
  • 77 percent now get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise
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40,000 Covered Lives: Improving Performance on ACO MSSP Metrics

The U.S. healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, but data consistently shows the U.S. underperforming relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’s) accountable care organization (ACO) model is aimed at addressing that issue by offering financial incentives for providers to improve the health of populations and reduce costs through greater efficiencies and a focus on preventive care.

Mission Health formed a Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACO called Mission Health Partners (MHP), which is responsible for 40,000 patient lives. MHP knew that its manual approach to data collection and reporting would not be sufficient for the required ACO quality metrics. By leveraging a previously implemented enterprise data warehouse platform and implementing an ACO MSSP analytics application, MHP was able to automate the processes of data-gathering and analysis and align the data with ACO quality reporting measures. The visibility and transparency of near real-time, online performance data coupled with focused process improvement has resulted in subsequent improvement in all 33 of the ACO performance metrics. Specifically, improvements have included:

  • 6 percent increase in compliance over all reported ACO metrics, with 23,000 more patients receiving recommended treatment or screenings.
  • 9 percent of eligible patients received screenings for clinical depression and follow up.
  • 40 percent increase in number of patients receiving any cancer screening; 46 percent improvement in the number of patients receiving colorectal cancer screening.
  • 456 percent increase in the number of patients getting fall risk screening.
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How One Hospital Embraced Patient Satisfaction Transparency

As consumers pay more for their healthcare they are demanding more transparency. In a telling example, it’s estimated that over 84 percent of patients use online provider reviews to help make care decisions. With increased transparency, hospitals need to develop strategies to address patient satisfaction while finding a way to participate for more fully in the patient satisfaction dialogue and social media communications, including the rating process.

One large hospital has done just that by increasing transparency in the patient review process. A key component is providing physician star ratings by patients on the hospital’s own website, with patient survey data sourced from Health Catalyst’s analytics platform. While this strategy took time and effort to win over physician acceptance, it has paid off considerably by taking patient satisfaction to new heights.

The overall patient satisfaction improvement initiative, of which the physician transparency effort was a key component, has proven to be resoundingly successful in supporting physicians and staff in the difficult work of providing outstanding and compassionate care – and has reaped impressive results including,

  • Improved patient satisfaction scores from 60 percent to over 90 percent
  • Successfully implemented a physician mitigation strategy with a 98 percent comment acceptance rate
  • Intensified focus on the patient experience through data and education
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Reducing HAC Rates to Keep Kids Safe and Healthy

Hospital-acquired conditions (HACs)—such as central line-associated blood stream infections (CLASBIs) and pressure ulcers (PUs)—cause harm and adversely affect patients’ lives, while also increasing hospital length of stay (LOS) and total hospital costs. In fact, each case of CLABSI alone costs up to $55,000 to treat and makes health systems vulnerable to reimbursement penalties.1

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW), a nationally ranked pediatric center with two hospitals and a surgery center, recognized that reducing the rate of HACs in its facilities would require major systematic changes. CHW’s approach to transforming care to prevent HACs included cultural changes with an emphasis on staff education and engagement and a new governance structure to support the initiative. These changes were powered by high-tech tools and quicker access to new types of data that CHW didn’t have in the past.

The hospital’s implementation of its comprehensive and collaborative HAC reduction plan has resulted in measurable quality of care improvements and cost reductions, including:

  • $1.6 million savings realized to date as a result of a 30 percent reduction in the overall number of HACs
  • 23 percent reduction in central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs)
  • 74 percent reduction of pressure ulcers (PUs)
  • 68 percent reduction in venous thromboembolisms (VTEs)
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Evidence-Based Care Process Model Reduces SSIs and Readmissions

The consequences of poor-quality surgical care are significant for both hospitals and patients. Consider the following: One in four patients having a colon re-section is readmitted within 90 days, costing U.S. healthcare approximately $300 million a year and negatively affecting the lives of tens of thousands of patients and their families.

In 2013, Mission Health, North Carolina’s sixth-largest health system, identified opportunities to improve clinical outcomes for its bowel surgery patients. With a vision of achieving the best outcome for each patient, Mission set goals to reduce length of stay (LOS), decrease readmissions, and reduce surgical site infections (SSIs) for its bowel surgery patients.

Mission recognized that care process models (CPMs) were key to making it easier for clinicians to deliver the best care to patients by doing the right thing consistently. The health system therefore organized a multidisciplinary improvement team charged with developing and implementing an evidence-based CPM for bowel surgery. In support of this effort, Mission leveraged technology and analytics to encourage clinician adoption of the CPM and to deliver performance insights.

Through these efforts, Mission has achieved impressive improvements in bowel surgery care:

  • 92 percent reduction in colorectal surgery SSI rates
  • 5 percent reduction in mortality
  • 6 percent reduction in 30-day readmissions
  • 4 percent reduction in LOS
  • 5 percent reduction in cost per case
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