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Memorial Hermann

Making a good catch: Memorial Hermann achieves safer patient care through medical alerts

“With the rules we can build in the Cerner system, we can help prevent medical errors before they reach the patient,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, CMIO for Memorial Hermann. “Right now, we have over 12,000 good catches a year that our medical alerts have prevented before they get to the patient. And while not all of those would have been a serious safety event, some of them would.”

Estimated to have cost the United States $19.5 billion in 2008, preventable medical errors still occur on a daily basis in today’s evidence-based environment. But as industry pressures move health organizations from volume- to value-based, good catches are becoming fundamental to patient care, not to mention financial sustainability. And Memorial Hermann is ahead of the game, having built the alerts that lead to good catches into its core EHR.

A Cerner client since 1995 and the second to sign with Cerner Millennium®, Memorial Hermann built its culture around the fundamental belief that “Safety is a Core Value.” To this end, Memorial Hermann designated a committee of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and ancillary staff to meet monthly and review, update and analyze clinical decision support functions, further enhancing assistance provided to clinicians at the point of care.

As the committee recognized what it could do with the Cerner Millennium infrastructure, it began to run detailed reports on the number of safety alerts the system detected. From there, the direct input from clinicians and end users helped the committee fully understand the breadth of risk and potential benefits achieved through each alert. Today, its efforts translate to Memorial Hermann catching one medical error every 19 minutes.

As Memorial Hermann expands its efforts outside the walls of the hospitals, the success of the good catches reinforces the organizations’ momentum in identifying new opportunities to better manage the health and care of its community.

“I want to say a big thank you to my team at Memorial Hermann, but also to the entire Cerner team who has developed this software over the years,” said Dr. Murphy. “They respond to our users’ needs, they respond to us as clinical leaders, and on behalf of the patients, they’ve helped us prevent harm and save lives.”

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.