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The Chester County Hospital Receives Innovator Award  from Healthcare Informatics

Released: March 15, 2010

The Chester County Hospital has received the 2010 Innovator Award from Healthcare Informatics, a CIO-level publication specializing in issues of system selection, project management, enterprise integration and change management. The award recognizes the Hospital's ability to harness the power of Information Technology to not only improve patient care by minimizing infection rates, but also to help protect and bolster financial performance.

The Chester County Hospital has distinguished itself from a quality and safety perspective by automating the infection control process and improving patient outcomes through use of the Siemens Soarian enterprise Electronic Medical Records (EMR). The EMR was adapted to help automate clinical processes for infection control notification in order to improve patient care outcomes for Methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), as well as compliance for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) core measures. This accomplishment was reached with no investment other than the time of its dedicated staff.

The Soarian system automates and manages workflow changes in a clinical setting. "The system wasn't build specifically for the use that we have found in the EMR," says Vice President of Information Technology, Ray Hess, referring to Soarian. "However, we looked at how we could adapt it to accommodate our needs," he says. "In this case, there was functionality that we found could be leveraged in a different way to work for us."

"The type of Business Process Management (BPM) used by Soarian is very popular in many other industries, but you don't see a whole lot in acute healthcare environments because of the complexities of the processes we are trying to automate," adds Hess.

"Infection control has been a major hot button for years," says Hess. "We had a group working on it and were having a hard time getting our arms around because of all the handoffs of patients." The Hospital's Infection Control team found that there were anywhere from eight to 12 manual processes every time a patient was placed into isolation. "If any one of these steps didn't occur, the patient may be at risk," notes Hess.

The manual steps of the identification, notification and tracking of patients with infectious diseases were automated by integrating two Soarian-driven workflows - Bed Management and Infection Control.

The new workflow helps to avoid the spread of infection by automatically triggering processes to identify and manage patients with a positive history of contagious infections at admission. The system sends automated alerts through the EMR, e-mails, printed information, text pages and text-to-speech telephone messages to different areas of the Hospital.

By leveraging its existing EMR product, The Chester County Hospital manages the infection control process from beginning to end with more consistency and better accuracy. By performing key tasks and interacting with the clinician to decrease the manual requirements of a process, the automation also resulted in reducing their workloads for clinicians as well as improved patient outcomes. As a result, The Chester County Hospital has seen a 60 percent drop in hospital-acquired MRSA cases over the last four years.

What set this project apart is the ability to review each step of the process. In addition to fast and accurate notification of everyone involved with a MRSA patient - from dietary to bed assignment - this process has also proven to be a patient satisfier. The automated notification system now eliminates the need to move patients with a history of MRSA since they're placed in an isolation bed at admission.

None of this would have been possible without a strong culture of collaboration. This effort is the result of a collaborative effort between Information Technology, Nursing, Admissions and Infection Control.

Since the success of automating the infection control process, the Hospital is now working to streamline dozens more.

Last Updated: 4/7/2010