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September 12, 2017

Lakeland Health reduced cardiac and respiratory arrests by 56%. Here's how.

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Lakeland Health implemented a new patient monitoring system that uploads patients' vital signs directly to their EHRs and generates automated alert scores—eliminating transcribing errors, freeing up nurses to spend more time with patients, and ultimately cutting cardiac and respiratory arrests by more than half, Bill Siwicki writes for Healthcare IT News.

How to increase HCAHPS scores with rounding technology

How it works

Traditionally, to check a patient's vital, signs a nurse or nursing assistant would obtain the vitals and enter them into the patient's EHR. However, Lakeland's new system sought to eliminate the potential for transcribing errors and validate the patient's data, according to Arthur Bairagee, the chief nursing informatics officer at Lakeland.

To check a patient's vitals under the new system, a nurse scans his or her ID badge barcode, as well as the barcode on the patient's armband. Then, the patient's vital signs data are collected and validated.

The software uses the data to generate an alert score ranging from zero to eight, which is displayed on a bedside monitor along with a set of instructions for each score. The higher the score, the more urgent action is required.

"The nurses and nursing assistants are more vigilant and communicate effectively with each other about their patients' vital signs," said Bairagee. "When the alert score is 3 or 4, the nursing assistant notifies the nurse and changes the vital sign sequence from four hours to every two hours. If the alert score continues to go up, the nurse escalates the patient's condition to the physician and provides immediate intervention."

Positive results

The Michigan-based health system began implanting the patient monitoring system in June 2016, and in March, it completed the integration and training across its three sites. Since then, Lakeland has seen a "significant reduction in transcription errors and improved quality of vital signs." The system has also saved nurses about an hour in each eight-hour shift, allowing the nurses to spend more time with their patients.

Further, Bairagee said, "The number of rapid responses has increased significantly, with the number of cardiac and respiratory arrests decreasing by approximately 56 percent, moving toward our goal of zero codes" (Siwicki, Healthcare IT News, 9/7).

See how investing in patient experience—and monitoring—could save you millions

Outdated approaches to managing patient experience could be costing you millions. Because sources of return are often spread throughout the hospital, it can be difficult to pinpoint hidden costs.

Using data from a 370-bed hospital system in the Southeast, we projected that investing in patient experience improvements could have saved them $2.3 million.

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