Quality & Process Improvements

Success Stories

Health Catalyst

Blood Conservation Program Yields Millions of Dollars in Savings

Every three seconds, someone in the United States will need a blood transfusion, which adds up to nearly 17 million blood components transfused annually. Yet, evidence shows that up to 60 percent of red cell transfusions may not be necessary. In 2011, Allina Health, a healthcare delivery system that serves Minnesota and western Wisconsin, had a wide variation in transfusion practices throughout the system and a transfusion rate that was 25 percent above national benchmarks. In an effort to improve outcomes of high-risk transfusions, Allina Health turned to its data to develop an evidence-based blood conservation program aimed at reducing costs and saving valuable blood resources.
Results:

$3.2M decrease in annual blood product acquisition costs since 2011
30,283 units saved annually
111 units of red cells saved per 1000 inpatient admissions

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Data-Driven Approach Identifies Nearly $33 Million of Savings Annually

Today’s healthcare industry, in which a lack of insight into clinical variation has contributed to increased expenses, has significant opportunities to use data and analytics to improve outcomes and reduce costs. As part of its ongoing commitment to improve clinical value, Allina Health has employed a systemwide process to identify, measure, and improve clinical value. The health system has been able to quantify the value of clinical change work to improve outcomes, while reducing costs and increasing revenue for reinvestment in care.
Allina Health achieved the following meaningful results with this collaborative, data-driven opportunity analysis process:

Identified nearly $33 million in potential cost savings for the first three quarters of 2017.
Achieved over $10 million of confirmed savings during the first three quarters of the year.
Elevated discussions of cost concerns, leading to the development of standard processes, and significantly reducing unwarranted clinical variation.

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Designing Hospital Quality Function Around the Value Chain

Publicly reported measures of healthcare quality includes the Hospital Safety Score Grades which award a letter grade representing performance for 30 evidence-based measures of patient safety. An “A” represents the best Hospital Safety Score, followed in order by “B,” “C,” “D,” and “F.” In the fall of 2014, Piedmont’s Hospital Safety Score Grade for its five hospitals included four “C’s” and a “D.” This demonstrated a need to change its approach to quality improvement and ensure proper resources were allocated and aligned with the value chain, enabling it to efficiently conduct surveillance activities, perform analysis, and facilitate sustained outcomes improvement.
To increase capacity for performing more value-added work, Piedmont leveraged its analytics platform to automate surveillance activities and monitor the effectiveness of quality improvement efforts. These tools helped Piedmont redesign its quality improvement efforts, resulting in a:

35 percent relative reduction in healthcare facility acquired infections per patient day.
50 percent reduction in the time required for peer review.
50 percent reduction in the time to implement improvement projects.

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Capturing the Voice of the Patient: Using PROMs Improves Shared Decision Making

Healthcare suffers from an overabundance of metrics, many of which are used to determine payment in several federal healthcare programs. While these metrics are intended to improve the quality of care that patients receive across the country, they provide no insight into how disease and treatment impact patients’ daily lives.
Partners HealthCare recognized that while it had data for patient outcomes such as mortality and morbidity, and an abundance of data for process measures, it did not have data about patient symptoms, function, or quality of life. To improve care, the healthcare system needed to engage patients to understand the impact of treatment on how patient’s felt and functioned following treatment.
Partners implemented a patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) survey program to collect this data. Partners now has several years of experience collecting PROMs and is gaining insight into how to successfully collect and use the information to improve shared decision making with patients and their providers.

Patients have completed nearly 300,000 questionnaires in more than 20 specialties and over 75 clinics at most of Partners’ hospitals.
Clinicians actively use this data to facilitate shared decision-making with their patients.

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Improving Clinical Processes and Effectiveness of Care through Creation of a Disease-Specific Registry

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system of about 400,000 people in the United States. With no known cure, current treatment for MS is to slow disease progression, manage symptoms and maintain the patient’s quality of life. Effective treatment of MS requires detailed patient information be readily available.
To better monitor disease progression and long-term patient outcomes, clinicians with OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute collaborated with researchers at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP) to build a customized database.
The customized MS flowsheet registry resulted in several benefits, including:

20.9 minute reduction (per patient) physician time spent searching for data.
2.2 minute reduction (per patient) support staff time spent searching for data.
300 percent increase in investigator initiated studies.

The success of the customized database suggests possible expansion may improve outcomes in other chronic or specialty care patient populations.

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Clinically Meaningful Quality Metrics Improve the Provider Experience

Nearly half (46 percent) of all physicians report that they suffer from burnout, citing too many bureaucratic tasks as one reason. Providers want to find meaning in their work, and improvement on many current quality metrics do not predict better patient outcomes or experience of care. They are looking for tools to reduce their workload and improve their ability to provide excellent care, including having metrics and registries that are meaningful and informative.
Faced with the challenge of making quality measures meaningful, Partners HealthCare worked to redefine measures to be more relevant, create point-of-care registries to manage an all-payer population, created teams of Population Health Coordinators to support front-line teams in managing the registries, and used its analytics platform to monitor change and explore provider variation in order to improve quality. This resulted in:

85 percent of clinicians surveyed felt that the new metrics helped them take better care of their patients.
Quality improved at an unprecedented rate on an all-payer population five times bigger than the standard pay-for-performance population.
Near real-time measurement using clinical data eliminated months-long delays, while run charts and provider and clinic-comparison views turbo charged quality improvement.
125 percent increase in user adoption of the analytic tool (99 unique users, 674 unique sessions, and rising).

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Comprehensive Approach to CAUTI Prevention Leads to Dramatic Reduction in Infections

Despite being common, healthcare-associated infections are potentially deadly and carry a significant financial cost. Of healthcare associated infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) are one of the most common, despite most instances of CAUTI being preventable.
As CAUTI was determined to be one of the top five influential factors in the publicly report quality scores, Piedmont Healthcare looked to data for more visibility into factors that were contributing to CAUTI rate in an effort to permanently reduce the number of infections. By engaging staff for compliance with CAUTI prevention best practices, Piedmont has seen sustainable improvements.
Results:

50.2 percent relative reduction in CAUTI standardized infection ratio (SIR). This translates to 37 fewer patients with infections than expected.
6.7 percent relative improvement in insertion bundle compliance.
Maintenance bundle compliance improved dramatically, with nearly a three-fold increase in the percentage of patients receiving the maintenance bundle.

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Using Analytics and Technology to Improve the ED Patient Experience

Substantial evidence indicates a correlation between a patient’s experience in a healthcare setting and adherence to medical advice, appropriate use of healthcare services, and clinical outcomes. Many organizations evaluate patient experience using Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) survey scores.
Mission Health’s patient experience survey scores in the emergency department (ED) were significantly lower than desired. Extended wait times negatively impact patient experience and perceptions of quality of care.
To improve the wait-time experience, Mission changed to a quick registration process, implemented patient notifications via text messaging, and began notifying patients of anticipated delays due to volume surges, thus better managing expectations. Text messaging also improved patient privacy, as did remodeling the waiting room to create a private registration area.
In just over a year, Mission’s ED achieved the highest patient experience ratings it had ever received:

Threefold improvement in patient ranking of:

Overall quality of care.
Provider communication.

29 percent relative reduction in time from discharge order to patient discharge.

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Quick Registration Dramatically Reduces Delays in ED Patient Care

Patient registration is an essential step in the emergency department (ED) workflow—it is required to initiate EHR documentation and impacts patient safety. Correctly identifying patients during registration is critical, as caregivers use historical data in the EHR to make treatment decisions.
Mission Health, as part of its ongoing performance improvement work, discovered that its registration process was lengthy—patients were waiting in line for as long as 15 minutes to be checked into the ED to receive treatment.
To improve its registration process, Mission implemented a quick registration process (e.g., asking fewer questions upon patient presentation at the ED) based on frontline staff feedback that, in a little over one year, dramatically reduced delays in ED patient care:

70 percent relative reduction in the time to complete registration, with current performance under one minute.
33 percent relative improvement in time from patient arrival to triage start time.
24 percent relative reduction in median length of stay (LOS) for discharged patients, 15 percent relative reduction for admitted patients, and 42 percent relative reduction in median LOS for behavioral health patients.

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Emergency Department Triage Redesign Dramatically Reduces Wait Times, LOS, and Left Without Being Seen Rates

Overcrowding in the emergency department (ED) has been associated with increased inpatient mortality, increased length of stay (LOS), and increased costs for admitted patients. ED wait times and left without being seen (LWBS) rates—patients who present to the ED but leave before receiving a medical evaluation—are indicators of overcrowding.
Mission Health needed to address overcrowding in its ED. The community hospital system confirmed overcrowding when it determined that approximately 4,000 patients were leaving its ED each year without being seen.
Mission implemented an improvement process to address ED overcrowding. The hospital leveraged its analytics platform to develop an ED analytics application that provided actionable, timely ED performance data to focus improvement efforts on four areas: staffing patterns, registration, triage assessment by the registered nurse (RN), and early access to a qualified medical provider.
Mission achieved significant ED performance improvements:

89 percent relative reduction in LWBS rate, with current performance at 0.4 percent.
85 percent relative reduction in percentage of patients who left before treatment complete, with current performance at 0.58 percent.
75 percent relative reduction in median door to assessment by a qualified provider, with current performance under 15 minutes.

 

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A Data-Driven Systems Approach to Improving Emergency Care

Health systems can directly impact the quality of emergency department (ED) care by reducing the time patients wait between arrival and seeing a qualified medical professional. Long ED wait times can reduce patient satisfaction and put patients at risk.
Mission Health determined that patients in its ED often waited more than 50 minutes to receive qualified medical care. To decrease this wait time, the hospital system sought to improve its ED patient flow. Using data-driven insights provided by use of its analytics platform, Mission could visualize each portion of the ED patient flow, enabling the improvement team to identify and respond to opportunities for process improvement.
Using this strategy, Mission achieved the following:

89 percent relative reduction in the rate of patients who left without being seen (LWBS), resulting in the current performance of 0.4 percent.
29 percent relative reduction in the time from discharge order to ED departure time.
24 percent relative reduction in the median length of stay (LOS) for patients who are discharged.

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Labor and Delivery Transformations Lower Costs and Improve Care

One in three women delivers via cesarean in the U.S., and more than 90 percent of them have repeat operations in subsequent deliveries. Despite numerous evidence-based guidelines and established best practices for labor and delivery, clinical care varies widely for many practices. Labor and delivery care varied at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, causing the organization to look for ways to standardize care.
To better understand variations in care, and opportunities to reduce its cost, the labor and delivery care transformation team at Thibodaux Regional used the Health Catalyst Labor and Delivery Advanced Application as well as the Financial Management Explorer application, which integrates data from billing and costing, and creates snapshots of current financial metrics.
Informing and educating providers with provider-specific data in conjunction with redesigned workflow, standardized supplies, and new, standardized protocols enabled the labor and delivery care transformation team at Thibodaux Regional to experience cost savings and improved outcomes, including:

24.4 percent relative reduction in the cost of care for uncomplicated vaginal delivery. Projected annual cost savings of $266,067.
22 percent relative reduction in the cost of care for cesarean deliveries. Projected annual cost savings of $346,856.

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Standardized Best Practices Improve Elective Colon Surgery Outcomes

Nationally, readmission within 90 days after colorectal surgery occurs in about one in four patients, at a cost of approximately $9,000 per readmission. Committed to improving its clinical and financial outcomes, MultiCare, an integrated healthcare delivery system in the Pacific Northwest, decided to focus an improvement effort on elective colorectal surgery when it recognized that patient population had a high opportunity for improvement in both clinical outcomes and cost.
Effectively using its existing quality improvement methodology and Collaborative structure, MultiCare leveraged the work of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Society and identified and implemented standardized best practice care routines and interventions that would benefit this population. By using the information in the Enterprise Data Warehouse and analytics applications to monitor clinical outcomes and compliance, and leveraging technology in the EHR to provide decision support and order sets at the point of care, MultiCare was able to significantly improve the clinical outcomes for these patients.
Results:

19 percent reduction in readmission rates.
22 percent reduction in length of stay.
85 percent reduction in infections related to colorectal surgery.

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Denial Managements Improvement Effort Produces $14.99M Reduction in Denials

At MultiCare Health System, the processes for denial management were not as effective as they could be, negatively impacting net patient revenue and financial performance through millions of dollars in adjustments. While only two-thirds of denials are recoverable, nearly 90 percent are preventable. MultiCare looked at improving denial management as an opportunity to improve appropriate revenue capture for services provided. Through targeted improvement efforts that included standardized workflows and increased data visibility, the health system is improving the root cause of denials.
Results:

$14.99M reduction in denials and avoidable write-offs.

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Improving the Transparency of Physician Compensation in Value-Based Care

Healthcare reimbursement continues to shift away from fee-for-service reimbursement models to value-based, risk-sharing agreements. This shift has resulted in organizations revising compensation strategies to engage physicians in value-based compensation arrangements. An effective value-based physician compensation plan is critically important, particularly in competitive environments where organizations must optimize the ability to recruit and retain highly skilled providers. One commonly used physician compensation approach includes a base salary and productivity incentives, coupled with additional compensation opportunities for achieving quality and service goals. The physician compensation package at John Muir Health is not only competitive, it is also complex, but the support process was burdensome, inefficient, and lacked transparency.
John Muir Health developed a plan to leverage the Health Catalyst® Analytics Platform, including the Late-Binding™ Data Warehouse and broad suite of analytics applications, to develop an automated process for physician compensation. The plan created efficiencies in time and effort across multiple domains and produced software to automate future work. The benefits included:

Saving 1,560 hours of time required to produce the data necessary to calculate physician compensation.
Successfully integrating more than ten different compensation models and 20 different data elements for more than 300 different providers into the physician compensation analytic application, automating the process.

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How Allina Engaged Clinicians and Analytics to Improve Influenza Vaccination Rate

Influenza, a contagious respiratory illness spread by droplets, can lead to hospitalization and even death. Millions of people get influenza each year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands to tens of thousands die from influenza related causes each year. The key to preventing a devastating outbreak is vaccinating enough people that an outbreak is unlikely.
When Allina Health identified that its own rates for influenza vaccination were lower than desired, the health system studied data gleaned from its EHR and an Analytics Platform from Health Catalyst, which includes a Late-Binding™ Enterprise Data Warehouse and broad suite of analytics applications, to understand its true current vaccination performance. The data revealed that changes were in order, which Allina put in place through clinician feedback, engagement, and education.
Results:

4.8 percentage point improvement in influenza vaccination rate, exceeding the Healthy People 2020 goals for vaccination.

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Combatting Opioid Abuse with Data-Driven Prescription Reduction

Each day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose. Historically, illegal opioids, such as heroin, were the primary contributing factor to overdoses. Today, it is well understood that a driving force for opioid abuse is prescriptions, which contribute significantly to the overdose epidemic.
Following a series of adverse outcomes related to opioid misuse within the community, Allina Health sought to evaluate how it managed acute non-cancer pain in the outpatient setting, particularly among opioid-naïve patients. By leveraging the Health Catalyst Analytics Platform, including the Late-Binding™ Data Warehouse and broad suite of analytics applications, Allina Health obtained data on prescribing patterns and identified several opportunities to reduce the number of opioids prescribed.
Results:

980,527 fewer opioid pills prescribed in the outpatient setting in 2016, a 12 percent relative reduction.
1,079 fewer patients (with acute or chronic pain) receiving eight or more opioid pill prescriptions over 12 months, a 10.3 percent relative reduction.
13,391 fewer patients receiving opioid prescriptions for more than 20 pills, a 13 percent relative reduction.

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Successfully Sustaining Sepsis Outcomes

Increasingly, high-functioning healthcare organizations are recognizing the challenge of sustaining results following successful clinical improvement initiatives. Sepsis is a major driver of mortality in the U.S. In fact, it is estimated that up to half of all hospital deaths are linked to sepsis. After executing a successful strategy to improve outcomes for patients with sepsis, Piedmont Healthcare was determined to sustain those critical reductions in mortality, length of stay, and cost.
The health system “hardwired” process changes into the EHR, monitored performance compliance via a well-developed analytics application, and fostered strong leadership on the frontlines to champion a culture of continuous improvement. In the second year of its latest sepsis improvement effort, Piedmont was able to not only sustain, but also to further improve upon its first-year improvement results.
Second-year results:

14.2 percent reduction in mortality for severe sepsis and septic shock translating to 68 lives saved in one year.
30.7 percent improvement in number of patients receiving calculated fluid target.
$1.2 million saved in one year from decreased variable cost.

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Enhancing Mental Health Care Transitions Reduces Unnecessary Costly Readmissions

Nationally, hospitalization for persons with mental health disorders has increased faster than hospitalization for any other condition. Of concern is the lack of bed space to intake these patients on a timely basis. In Minnesota, for example, more than 50 percent of available state psychiatric beds were closed between 2005 and 2010. Furthermore, readmission rates for patients with mood disorders is higher than any other mental health condition, with 15 percent readmitted within 30 days of hospital discharge and up to 22.4 percent of patients with schizophrenia being readmitted. While the average cost of a readmission in the U.S. is approximately $7,200, of greater concern is hospital readmission represents poor patient outcomes related to lack of adequate access to community mental health resources and challenges with adherence to care plans needed to prevent chronic relapse.
In response to these challenges, Allina Health put a new care transition process in place, redesigned workflow, and added key patient support roles. To measure the effectiveness of new interventions, Allina relied on the Health Catalyst Analytics Platform, which includes the Late-Binding™ Enterprise Data Warehouse and a broad suite of analytics applications.
Results:

27 percent relative reduction in potentially preventable readmission rate.
80 percent patient retention rate in established outpatient mental health services.

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Data-Driven Process Improvement Raises Patient Safety for Highest-Risk Medication

Intravenous (IV) heparin is widely used to prevent thrombosis in a variety of clinical settings, yet it is considered one of the highest-risk medications used in the inpatient setting because of the potential for dosing errors. Allina Health identified multiple IV heparin protocols among its hospitals, a variation that increased the risk of errors. Standard practices that addressed patients’ clinical needs in a disease-specific way were lacking. Over the course of 1.5 years, more than 9,000 patients at Allina Health had an IV heparin protocol ordered, so IV heparin safety was of utmost concern.
To address this quality issue and improve clinical value, Allina Health created a systemwide interdisciplinary team to standardize IV heparin therapeutic guidelines and monitor the impact of the standard guideline on patient outcomes. Allina Health engaged multiple physician stakeholder groups to review proposed protocols and provide critical feedback to help ensure the best possible patient care and safety. To effectively monitor IV heparin outcomes, patient safety, and the impact of the new, standard guidelines and protocols, Allina Health developed an anticoagulation safety analytics application, using the Health Catalyst Analytics Platform, including the Late-Binding™ Data Warehouse and broad suite of analytics applications. These outcomes improvement efforts resulted in:

A seven percent relative improvement in the percentage of patients therapeutic within 24 hours of protocol initiation.
Paring 20+ site-based documents (e.g., policies, protocols, and order sets) to one systemwide guideline and four systemwide protocols.

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How Allina and Minnesota Perinatal Physicians Lowered Stress and Raised Satisfaction for High Risk Maternal Patients

Assuring patient satisfaction can be challenging, particularly when providing care to pregnant women with high-risk pregnancy conditions. As one of the foremost perinatal practices in the country, Minnesota Perinatal Physicians (MPP) acted swiftly to end a significant delay in scheduling ultrasound appointments, and reduced wait times for other visits.
With an aim to improve patient care and experience, the maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialists at MPP, employees of Allina Health, leveraged Allina’s “Improving Clinical Value” Program—an initiative that has elevated the patient care experience for numerous other patient populations while simultaneously lowering the per capita cost of care for each one.
Results:

$210,000 in increased revenue because of improved access, projected to be $280,000 within 12 months.
20.8 percent relative improvement in no-show rate.
20 percent increase in available ultrasound appointments and an 18.2 percent increase in utilization.

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Collaborative Partnerships and a Three-System Approach to Driving Healthcare Transformation

Healthcare organizations are among the most complex forms of human organization ever attempted to be managed, making transformation a daunting task. Despite the challenges associated with change, Texas Children’s Hospital identified that it needed to evolve into a data-driven outcomes improvement organization.
Texas Children’s embarked on a journey to transform care, building a three-systems approach—analytics, best practice, and adoption—designed to develop a data-driven quality improvement organization that could achieve outcomes improvement expediently and at scale across the entire organization. Texas Children’s leadership knew that the foundation for clinical systems integration would be meaningful, actionable data. That realization prompted the organization to implement the Health Catalyst Analytics Platform including a Late-Binding™ Data Warehouse (EDW) and a broad suite of analytics applications.
After deploying the analytics platform supported by multidisciplinary quality improvement teams, Texas Children’s was able to improve patient outcomes related to the following:

35 percent relative decrease in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs).
44 percent relative decrease in LOS for patients with Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
30.9 percent relative reduction in recurrent DKA admissions per fiscal year.

 

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Data-Driven Clinical Documentation Improvement Program Increases Revenue and Improves Accuracy of Risk Adjusted Quality Metrics

Allina Health, an integrated delivery system throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, has long understood the value of clinical documentation improvement (CDI), and its growing importance in recent years. With the implementation of ICD-10, the specificity needed for accurate coding has increased, and reimbursement shifts have occurred as well, creating sizeable payment disparity for some clinical conditions. Leaders at Allina wanted to understand where their CDI program would have the greatest return on investment. However, data from the EHR was not sufficient to inform their strategy. CDI specialists still lacked the ability to perform a comprehensive assessment of the accuracy of clinical documentation, and were unable to confidently target improvement efforts in areas that would generate the greatest return on investment. To take a more data-driven approach, team members leveraged the Health Catalyst Analytics Platform, including their Late-Binding™ Data Warehouse and broad suite of analytics applications to develop a CDI analytics application. With the application, the team identified opportunities and thoroughly vetted them, before collaborating with physicians and service line leaders to educate providers on documentation improvements.
They achieved the following results:

12.1 percent improvement in CV surgical cardiology CC/MCC capture rate.
6.3 percent increase in medical cardiology CC/MCC capture rate.
Increased accuracy in publically reported risk adjusted quality metrics
Revenue capture improvement across the system – resulting in millions of dollars of additional reimbursements.

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Mission Health Receives 100 Percent of At-Risk Dollars in Payer Incentive Program

Since 2004, the US healthcare system has annually ranked last relative to 10 other developed nations in quality, access, efficiency, equity, and health outcomes. In an effort to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes in the U.S., the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) launched a series of quality incentive programs designed to generate a shift from volume to value-based reimbursement.  The health insurance industry soon followed their lead, and started writing contracts with hospitals in which a percentage of payment was based on performance on selected quality metrics.
Faced with the challenge of reporting on numerous incentive programs with differing expectations, Mission Health leveraged their enterprise data warehouse to aggregate the data needed to track the quality measures. With millions of dollars on the line with one particular payer, Mission developed an analytics application to monitor performance on the metrics in that contract.  The application was used to analyze whether performance feedback and workflow changes would lead to improved performance on the metrics, thus ensuring that they would maximize reimbursement, while improving care for patients.
Results:

Achieved 100 percent of all at risk dollars.
100 percent of the ambulatory metric targets were exceeded, some by as much as 19 percent.
All five hospitals exceeded targets for 80 percent or more of their inpatient metrics.

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How Texas Children’s Turned Child Diabetes Management into a Community Cause

Patients with diabetes are at a high risk for infections and substantial complications, including the risk of death from infections. Further, social determinants in these patients’ communities have a tremendous influence on their health.
Texas Children’s Hospital, ranked as one of the top four Best Children’s Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, recognized that there were gaps in diabetes care coordination in the community—where the majority of a child’s diabetes management takes place. The hospital initiated a coordinated community response, aided with an analytics platform, which is setting the standard for community management of pediatric diabetes.
Results

4 percent relative improvement in the percentage of patients with diabetes who received the influenza vaccine.
3 percent relative improvement in pediatric provider diabetes knowledge.
90 percent of patients now have individualized school packets developed and available in the EHR.

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