Halifax Health integrates EHR, cloud decision support to combat sepsis

As many as 80 percent of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment, which is why Halifax has brought together this triumvirate of health IT for prescriptive alerts.
By Bill Siwicki
03:04 PM
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Halifax Health integrates EHR, cloud decision support, communications to combat sepsis

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals: 62 percent of people hospitalized with sepsis are re-hospitalized within 30 days, and as many as 80 percent of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment, according to the Sepsis Alliance.

Halifax Health, the Florida-based health system, is fighting back against sepsis with a combination of its electronic health record, cloud-based clinical decision support and mobile communication devices Here’s how the systems are working together to improve patient safety.

About 250 data points per patient are sent from its Meditech EHR to the Wolters Kluwer Point Of Care Advisor cloud-based decision support platform. The decision tree engine in the cloud can predict sepsis based on data and trends.

[Also: With EHR-based sepsis detection, Epic and Cerner have different approaches]

When sepsis is predicted, an alert is triggered and sent to a patient's caregiver and hospital sepsis care team members via Vocera hands-free communications badges or smartphone apps. The alert goes through an integration engine to the communications system via APIs.

"When we started, we only sent the predictive alerts to the patient’s care team and our sepsis care team, then we added an acknowledge feature," said Tom Stafford, vice president and CIO at Halifax Health.

"Soon after that, we decided to convert the alert to be prescriptive," he added. "Now, when caregivers acknowledge a sepsis alert on their badges or smartphone apps, the system tells them their next steps over their mobile devices. If the steps are complex, the system refers them to the Point of Care Advisor system."

The power of the three integrated systems hit close to home recently. One of Halifax’s IT team members was hospitalized. The integrated system predicted sepsis in the staffer and alerted the applicable clinical team members. They followed the recommended actions from the system and were able to successfully treat their fellow employee for sepsis.

Stafford offers some wisdom for peers considering similar approaches to warding off sepsis.

"You need to have a physician champion that understands what you are trying to accomplish technically," he said. "You also need to have team members who are very knowledgeable in APIs and who can work with development teams at external companies, like our vendor partners."

And before a healthcare organization can innovate, it needs a stable workforce and infrastructure, Stafford added. "To innovate, you must also have time to do so," he said. "Lack of resources and stability in staff and infrastructure will prevent innovation."

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com