When the COVID-19 pandemic hit EvergreenHealth in Washington State, health system leaders quickly began utilizing interoperability as part of their treatment strategy, while using data-driven analytics to help the two-hospital system’s response and decision making.
EvergreenHealth leaders relied on interoperability as the organization began seeing COVID-19 patients from other health systems. Instead of waiting on faxes for patient records, clinicians could retrieve records much quicker, supporting their efforts to develop a plan of care more efficiently.
“With faxes, typically this takes four to six hours, and that’s if you’re requesting at the right time during normal business hours,” said Tony Yen, MD, chief medical information officer. “With interoperability, that waiting time shrunk to about 30 to 40 seconds, which allows us to take care of a patient immediately.”
“There’s a critical amount of time in the beginning,” Yen continued. “Within that first hour, you use a wide variety of data to establish a preliminary diagnosis. From just a cognitive standpoint, it’s important to remain focused on my patient in front of me. Health information exchange through CommonWell allows me to do just that by gathering outside clinical data quickly.”
To access patients’ records, EvergreenHealth utilizes Outside Record Viewer within Cerner Millennium®. This aggregates information from all consenting organizations participating in Carequality and CommonWell Health Alliance® network.
As the pandemic continues, EvergreenHealth leaders plan to expand interoperability functionality to all inpatient specialties and ambulatory clinics.
“There are operational gains with interoperability,” said Yen. “Those operational gains help us take better care of patients.”
Analytics assist with operations, research
In addition to leveraging interoperability, EvergreenHealth leaders relied on analytics to help drive decisions and research. Researchers examine order data from Cerner Millennium to analyze patients' responses to new COVID-19 treatments, stratified by demographic characteristics like age, sex and ethnicity.
Health system leaders also use analytics in other ways, including utilization of personal protective equipment (PPE) for clinicians. When the pandemic first hit, health systems across the nation were facing challenges regarding PPE supplies, making utilization trackability crucial to plan effectively and safely.
With the shift to a new normal, analytics is also helping EvergreenHealth move into a new phase of COVID-19 treatment, while balancing regular health system operations.
“We’ve been performing universal screening for our elective procedures,” said Yen. “We continue to track what percentage of people are positive, to help determine the prevalence in the community. COVID-19 screening results help us to optimize safety for patients and staff, and to determine how to prepare operating rooms for particular patients.”