How Technology Can Reduce Your Patient Safety Risks and Penalties

With Medicare penalizing hospitals with high rates of patient injuries, the time has come to harness technology to improve patient safety outcomes and eliminate CMS reimbursement cuts.

8 22 18 Blog

In December 2017, The U.S. government cut payments to 751 hospitals with high rates of patient injuries.

As a result, these hospitals will lose 1% of Medicare payments over the federal fiscal year. Even worse, more than half of these hospitals were punished the previous year through the penalty, which is designed as a financial incentive for hospitals to avoid infections and other mishaps, such as blood clots and bedsores.

If 1% doesn’t seem like much, then consider this. Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, which is one of the penalized hospitals, is likely to lose about $2 million because of patient safety issues. With the hospital reporting annual shortfalls of more than $20 million, piling on a $2 million penalty adds insult to injury.

There is a cure, however, and it comes in the form of technology’s ability to harness Big Data.

The Power of Technology and Big Data

Traditionally, healthcare data was – and, as it relates to patient safety and incident reporting, largely still is – collected by means of paper forms. To be integrated into a computerized system, manual data entry must occur, which brings with it several critical issues. First, before the data is entered, it could easily become lost. Second, by the time the data is entered, opportunities for improvement may be long gone. Third, human error could cause the entered data to be inaccurate.

Not surprisingly, these issues often result in inaccurate figures, lost or overlooked information, and discrepancies that taint and disrupt further findings. Unfortunately, these inaccuracies can ultimately lead to additional patient safety issues, rather than producing the intended consequence of reducing preventable patient harm.

Although Big Data has already transformed so many industries – such as financial services, aviation, and utilities – its full potential in healthcare has yet to be realized. A fully executed Big Data strategy will enable a healthcare organization to not only collect information electronically from a variety of sources, but also allow technology to systematically review and analyze this information to create a better understanding and implementation of medicines, healthcare tools, procedures, and practices to ensure improved care.

But the efficacy of Big Data doesn’t stop there. Using carefully created algorithms as the fuel for artificial intelligence, technology solutions – such as DatixWeb and Datix Cloud IQ – can continually mine the data in real time, generating flags and alerts that can prevent negative events from occurring. Already, such data mining is predicting outbreaks of infections in hospitals, based on ongoing analysis of data that only computer systems could manage. In fact, so powerful is the ability of Big Data to transform healthcare that the Journal of Infectious Diseases devoted its entire December 2016 issue to the topic.

Improving Patient Safety Risks

In addition to improved methods and capabilities of collecting information, Big Data also reduces the cost of patient care and helps organize and streamline efforts toward improving patient safety and clinical outcomes. By using software developed to integrate broad-population health data, caregivers can now view information from multiple sources and communities through a single application.

By reducing variables such as human error and inaccurately inputted information, lowering the amount of time it takes to collect data, and organizing that data into well-structured applications, technology can improve patient safety risks and penalties. For most hospitals, the financial return on investment of such technology can be 10x to 20x per year; the human ROI is priceless.

It is for the above reasons that Datix has committed itself to be the global leader in risk management technology and improving healthcare safety outcomes. Because a single patient safety event is one event too many, the Datix team is dedicated to reducing the frequency and impact of adverse events. Our goal is to provide the tools that allow healthcare organizations to measurably reduce patient harm while improving safety, quality, and experience. Datix is 100% focused on healthcare and improving patient safety. If you are, too, then we would welcome a conversation.