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Why an IT-driven pandemic response may be the source of lasting change at BayCare Health System

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Published on 8/26/2020

This article, featuring BayCare Health System’s chief medical officer, Nishant Anand, MD, and director of physician systems and population health, Chris Eakes, was originally published July 10 on Becker’s Hospital Review. Cerner is proud to support BayCare in delivering innovative care.

Pandemic responses have varied across health care organizations. BayCare Health System, a network of 15 hospitals based in Clearwater, Fla. that participates in value-based care arrangements and a provider-sponsored plan, has recorded approximately 650 COVID-19 admissions and more than 400 discharges as of mid-May. When cases first began rising locally, BayCare launched several provisions to address new demands created by the pandemic.

The use of technology and analytics to inform care decisions was a linchpin in BayCare's response, which aided in targeted engagement for its community served. BayCare Chief Medical Officer, Nishant Anand, MD, and Director of Physician Systems and Population Health, Chris Eakes, provide insight into the organization's technology-driven COVID-19 response and recovery strategies. Many components of BayCare's pandemic response have become more than tools to combat a crisis — they've become important elements of the organization's long-term strategy.

The start: Stratifying potential COVID-19 patients

One of the first challenges organizations faced as COVID-19 took hold was triaging potential cases to the appropriate setting, whether that be a testing center, urgent care facility or other venues and virtual channels.

To meet this challenge, BayCare used technology and advanced analytics to stratify COVID-19 patients before they presented to the organization. A triage phone line was immediately set up for patients to discuss their symptoms with nurses. Staff directed patients to the BayCareAnywhere app, which enabled them to check symptoms before seeking care. Community care managers then guided patients through treatment decisions.

Part of the organization's strategy included tracking potential hotspots where people tested positive and using analytics to predict where they might seek care. The information came from a universe of sources, including surveys, claims, lab, clinical systems, public data and its EHR. The sources provided centralized insights to BayCare's populations served — including more than 260,000 value-based members — all hosted within the Cerner data and insights platform, HealtheIntent®.

"One of our biggest challenges was organizing this data across all parts of the health system," Mr. Eakes said. "We're a large, very complex organization trying to accomplish a lot of things and serve the community in different ways," he said.

BayCare addressed this challenge by utilizing the data and insights platform to aggregate and normalize its data into dashboards that could present information in ways upon which providers could act. The dashboards helped the organization identify correlations and trends and stratify COVID-19 patients into segments based on risk. BayCare also mined the data to develop its own regression model to predict COVID-19 infection rates, in addition to other models.