Why most hospitals could save millions by improving patient safety

by Erik Johnson, VigiLanz CCO

Improving patient safety and increasing the bottom line aren’t competing priorities. Here’s how hospitals can accomplish both objectives.

The first wave of Covid-19 may gave subsided in some areas of the country, but in others it is growing and hospitals everywhere are continuing to face significant challenges.

The American Hospital Association recently estimated that hospitals will incur at least $323.1 billion in losses through the end of this year due to Covid-19. Key contributors include postponed and canceled elective procedures, lower patient volumes across all departments, and higher costs for supplies and devices.

Other factors compound the financial challenges, including pressure for hospitals to implement new initiatives that foster a safer care environment for Covid-19 patients, non-Covid-19 patients, and healthcare providers. This pressure is mounting, as spikes in cases continue to appear in various regions, and as concerns grow about the flu season.

You can read more of this article on MedCityNews.  

Hospital Patient Safety Report: Infection Prevention Findings

To better understand the state of hospital patient safety and the biggest opportunities for improvement, VigiLanz commissioned Sage Growth Partners, a healthcare consultancy, to conduct an independent survey of 100 hospital and health system leaders in February 2020.

View the full report here.

This infographic highlights some of the most noteworthy infection prevention-related survey findings. The infographic reveals:

  • How hospital leaders rate their infection prevention efforts
  • Where infection prevention falls on their list of top safety priorities
  • How they are using technology to support their efforts

Podcast: Top Patient Safety Considerations for Hospitals as Flu Season Approaches

Tips for Health Systems

Stacy Pur, Vice President of Product Development at VigiLanz, shares her unique perspective on the challenges facing hospital systems as a result of the pandemic, including the impact on ICU nurses and hospital staff. In this conversation with Integrated Healthcare Executive, she shares how hospitals can increase patient safety, curb infection rates, and address flu season as it begins.

Riverside University Health System Uses VigiLanz for NICU Antimicrobial Stewardship

Customer Profile 

Riverside University Health System Medical Center (RUHS), a 439-bed facility in Moreno Valley, California, is committed to delivering exceptional care—and its quality performance reflects that commitment. Recognized by The Joint Commission as a top performer on key quality measures, RUHS has received awards from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. It is also recognized as a Baby Friendly Hospital by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Challenge

As part of its commitment to providing optimal patient care, RUHS participates in the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative, a statewide network of California’s neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and high risk infant follow-up clinics. In 2016, the collaborative launched an antibiotic stewardship (ASP) initiative with 28 NICUs, including RUHS.

At that time, RUHS had an antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) for all patients, but it did not have a program that was focused solely on pediatric and NICU patients. “As we looked more closely at the younger patient population, we realized there was room for improvement in this area,” said Nikita Patel, Assistant Director of Pharmacy–Clinical Programs & Quality Improvement at RUHS.

She noted that, while there are established clinical practice guidelines for neonatal early onset sepsis management, they can contribute to higher antibiotic use—sometimes unnecessarily.

“If a baby has an active infection the first two to three days of life, the mortality outcomes are staggering and antibiotic use can be life-saving,” said Patel. “But unnecessary antibiotic use can disrupt a baby’s gut microbiome and impact their long-term immune response. This puts them at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases like asthma, and can lead to antibiotic resistance.”

Solution

RUHS turned to VigiLanz to support its efforts to optimize antibiotic use among pediatric and NICU patients. The clinical surveillance solution—which continuously gathers information from the medical center’s EMR and other sources, analyzes that data in real time, and provides meaningful insights to healthcare providers—enables pharmacists to view robust antimicrobial utilization reports. “The reports help us continuously monitor antimicrobial use and assess prescribing trends,” said Patel.

VigiLanz also provides relevant healthcare providers with real-time alerts that promote ASP in the NICU. These alerts include:

  • 48-hour antibiotic timeouts that enable NICU pharmacists to review information and recent lab results on relevant patients.
  • Positive lab results, so that pharmacists more quickly review critical labs and make appropriate medication change recommendations or antibiotic de-escalation.
  • Pharmacokinetic monitoring alerts, so that pharmacists can immediately make recommendations regarding dosage changes.
“I can’t emphasize enough how valuable VigiLanz is for us. It helps drive timely and important patient care interventions and improves our efficiency and documentation.” – Nikita Patel, Assistant Director of Pharmacy – Clinical Programs & Quality Improvement, RUHS

Outcomes

The new approach to ASP at RUHS has had a significant positive effect on patient care, said Patel. “I can’t emphasize enough how valuable VigiLanz is for us,” she said. “It helps drive timely and important patient care interventions and improves our efficiency and documentation.”

Two noteworthy outcomes of the new approach include:

  • A 37% decrease in NICU antibiotic utilization between March 2017 and March 2018. Importantly, that 37% drop has also been sustained since 2018.
  • More than 90% compliance with 48-hour antibiotic timeouts for all patients admitted to the NICU and initiated on antimicrobials.

VigiLanz also saves pharmacists time, which also benefits patient care, said Patel. “We no longer have to manually review patient lists and data every day,” she explained. “VigiLanz automatically sorts relevant data for us and alerts us when there’s a potential problem or when there’s something new to review. That helps us intervene more quickly and spend more time on other patient care improvement initiatives.”

 

To learn more about how VigiLanz helps hospitals improve their patient safety and clinical surveillance, visit https://vigilanzcorp.com/ today.