Community Health Network (CHN), a large health system based in Indianapolis, Indiana, serves more than 618,000 patients across nine hospitals and more than 200 sites of care. With nearly 60,000 inpatient admissions annually and more than 280,000 emergency room visits, CHN is known for its commitment to ensuring optimal safety for patients, staff, and visitors.
Most hospitals use basic safety event reporting mechanisms to monitor safety events and identify improvement opportunities. But the effectiveness of these mechanisms is often limited by cumbersome documentation workflows and poor investigative and analytics tools. This reduces the likelihood that safety events will be reported and that safety gaps and trends will be identified and addressed.
CHN knew there had to be a better way, so in 2018, the health system began searching for a new solution that could replace its current vendor and provide more value across the enterprise. “The goal was to provide staff with efficient and intuitive event reporting workflows, while also implementing new investigative and analytics tools,” said Danielle Dillon, MHL, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, who serves as Blood Management Director for the entire CHN health system and who previously served as Risk Manager for Community Hospital East, a CHN hospital in Indianapolis. “We work hard to instill a culture of continual safety improvements, so we’re always looking for new approaches to be even more successful.”
Community Health Network evaluated several different event reporting solutions before selecting VigiLanz, an award-winning event reporting and clinical surveillance platform that optimizes reporting through real-time alerts, auto-detection of events, management and investigation tools, and analytics and reporting capabilities.
“We felt confident that VigiLanz would meet our current event reporting needs, but also work with us to help address any future objectives,” said Dillon, noting that the solution also stood out due to its form customization abilities, efficient documentation processes, ability to provide enterprise-wide and location-specific reports, and cost-effectiveness. “We knew they would help operationalize best practices in reporting, data collection, and collaboration across multidisciplinary teams.”
To ensure a thorough planning and implementation process, CHN formed a team of risk management, patient experience, claims, peer review, and IT leadership. This group worked closely with VigiLanz to ensure the solution would support enhanced collaboration across the enterprise. “Stronger safety event management and reporting workflows would benefit all of these departments, so their involvement was critical,” explained Dillon.
The new safety event management and reporting system, which went live at CHN in November of 2020 and is known as PACER (Patient and Caregiver Event Reporting), spans the breadth of reporting needs, including:
- Employee injuries
- Security events
- Patient complaints and grievances
- Safety events and harm events
CHN is also using other solutions in the VigiLanz event reporting suite, including VigiLanz Risk and Claims and VigiLanz Patient Relations, both of which integrate with the safety event platform. Risk and Claims is used to manage and document medical malpractice claims and legal filings and to maintain relevant financial data. Patient Relations is used to streamline the documentation and management of patient and visitor feedback and to identify opportunities for improving patient satisfaction and service recovery.
“There’s potential for one event to touch all of these areas pretty frequently,” said Dillon. “The new approach makes it easy to share information between departments and improves communication.”
According to Dillon, most hospitals and health systems that implement a new event reporting mechanism experience a temporary decrease in reported events, as it can take time for staff members to adjust. That’s not been the case at CHN. “Throughout the implementation processes, our average number of events reported remained stable and is now increasing,” said Dillon. “In 2021, our monthly average number of reported events is 16% higher than it was before we transitioned to the new system.”
She attributes that increase in reported events to more intuitive and efficient workflows for staff members. “We’re confident that we aren’t missing things and that we’re addressing more potential safety problems and gaps than before.”
Key benefits of the new system include the ability to:
- Quickly document events through customizable forms, single sign-ons, mobile access, and mandatory fields
- Obtain meaningful safety event insights within specific locations and across the enterprise through analytics and investigative tools
- Use customizable and automated email notifications and automated escalations to ensure events are properly reviewed and addressed
- Train new users with on-demand sessions and frequent live sessions with Q&As
“My job lives and breathes in PACER,” said Dillon. “I can easily access the system and daily report every morning via my cellphone, and I triage things then and there. We’re responding more quickly and it’s easier to track and trend events across every site.”
The new solution is also increasing collaboration across multiple multidisciplinary teams, said Dillon. For example:
- The claims department uses the claims tracking system within the event reporting system to manage and document medical malpractice claims and legal filings.
- The quality department uses the peer review tool to identify issues that may require quality review of care provided by physicians and/or advanced practitioners.
- The patient experience department uses the system to document patient feedback and maintain regulatory compliance.
- The risk management department uses the system to coordinate appropriate involvement of expert individuals to identify, assess, track, and trend issues impacting caregiver and patient safety.
“Creating a safer healthcare system is one of the most critical objectives for our industry right now,” said Dillon. “It’s something we strive to do every day at Community Health Network, and our new event management and reporting system is helping us meet that goal.”