What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when a person’s body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. Sepsis is a common and often deadly response to an infection. It is vitally important that care teams quickly recognize and treat the condition. Research has shown that the chances of surviving severe sepsis decrease by 7.6 percent for every hour that antimicrobial treatment is delayed. Substantially reducing sepsis’ mortality rates is one of the chief areas of focus for leading health systems and health organizations today. These organizations recognize that successfully engaging clinicians to follow best practice interventions is an essential component of success.
There is a case study of how a hospital was able to improve how they handled sepsis incidents in patients and improve their Sepsis Care Plan. The Piedmont Healthcare (Piedmont), a system of six hospitals with over 125 physician and specialist offices across greater Atlanta and North Georgia. To improve sepsis outcomes, Piedmont implemented the Surviving Sepsis Campaign care bundles 3, specifically, the 3-hour bundle, 6-hour bundle, and early alerts. This case study describes how being able to provide accurate and timely data to clinicians can re-energize a stalled improvement effort and set the stage for meaningful and sustainable clinical practice change.
Winning the Battle of Sepsis
Piedmont clinicians had been well educated about the importance of following best practices for sepsis care, but that alone wasn’t enough to sustain an ongoing change in practice. Piedmont needed a system-wide sepsis improvement team with a strong physician champion, and it needed a clear and simple way to view clinical and financial performance data and bundle compliance based on timely, trustworthy data. To that end, Piedmont implemented the solutions below. Other hospitals and healthcare organizations can emulate these solutions too.
Systemwide sepsis improvement team for sustained change: In order to deploy a standardized approach to sepsis care improvement, Piedmont made sure its sepsis improvement team included strong representatives from each hospital across the system. These team members included an engaged physician champion, expert clinical leadership, a proficient program manager, and active leadership support, which Piedmont knew was critical to sustaining improvement.
Data validation process for clinician buy-in: Piedmont determined that an analytics application was essential for tracking sepsis clinical outcomes and compliance with best practices and guidelines. In order to deploy an application that would be trusted by physicians, nurses, and financial staff alike, the improvement team first undertook a meticulous data validation process. An ad hoc group of team members from finance and coding met together with clinicians from the ED, ICU, and acute floors to review and validate data. Clinician acceptance of the data was achieved once they saw full agreement between the data from the application and data that they had personally obtained from manual chart audits.This validation effort, done effectively and efficiently, was completed in weeks. Piedmont was pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement it generated. It became clear that asking clinicians what data they wanted to view and how they preferred to view it was the engagement these clinicians needed in order to trust and “own” the data—and make changes in their sepsis care practices.
Sepsis Improvement Application to bring accountability: Having gained clinician engagement and trust in the data through the validation process, Piedmont was able to bring its Sepsis Improvement Application from Health Catalyst into effective use very quickly.Research shows that near real-time feedback impacts people when they still remember their actions, and without the ability to show clinicians how they were doing in real-time, data was easy to dismiss 4 The application’s interactive visualization features now allow the sepsis improvement team to quickly and precisely show executives, managers, and frontline staff exactly how well the health system and/or individuals are adhering to the best practice 3-hour bundle, responding to early sepsis alerts, and how this performance directly impacts LOS, mortality, cost, and patient outcomes.