Tag Archives for " better patient care "

Wikipedia tracking helps with disease prediction

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico say that tracking Wikipedia page views can forecast the spread of influenza and dengue fever.

The researchers claim their algorithm allows them to overcome the challenges that hamper the reliability of other similar data surveillance methods based on Internet information.

Google Flu Trends, is a web service operated by Google, which provides estimates of influenza activity by aggregating Google search queries. But, early last year it was reported that they drastically overestimated peak flu levels, casting some doubt on the search giant’s ability to predict flu trends.

“Using simple statistical techniques, our proof-of-concept experiments suggest that these data are effective for predicting the present, as well as forecasting up to the 28-day limit of our tests,” the Los Alamos researchers say. “Our results also suggest that these models can be used even in places with no official data upon which to build models.

Though there are still detractors to the notion of using such systems to predict disease outbreaks, it is no doubt amazing to witness the many uses to which the growing volumes of meta data available on the internet will be used.

Read the full report here.

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Evidence-based protocols drive quality improvement

An article published in FierceHelathcare’s eBook “Systemwide Transformations that Improve Healthcare Quality and Efficiency.” argues the best way to treat patients is with evidence-based protocols (EBPs).

Here is an excerpt:

In a new and evolving healthcare market that rewards efficiency and quality care, hospitals must find a way to streamline their systems to put forth better results for patients and more savings for their organizations.

One way to accomplish this is by focusing on evidence-based care protocols–the clinical care recommendations supported by the best available evidence in the clinical literature.

Although there may be 200 ways to do something, in some cases clinicians have strong evidence that reveals the best way to do it, says David J. Ballard, M.D., Ph.D., chief quality officer for Baylor Scott & White Health, a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Dallas that includes 46 hospitals and more than 500 patient care sites. For instance, Baylor implemented a standardized heart failure order set, which has the potential, if it were deployed across the country, to save $2 billion in annual hospital costs and prevent 1,500 in-hospital deaths annually.

The results of EBPs are better care for patients, and cost savings for healthcare organizations.

You can read more about Evidence-Based Practices here.

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5 ways to reduce hospital-acquired infections

Photo source: http://globalhandwashing.org

Hospital-acquired infections are a serious issue. Resulting in loss of lives and increased hospital costs, both of which are preventable. These 5 tips may help.

Although the rates of infection have steadily decreased over the past few years, still approximately 75,000 deaths were attributed to hospital-acquired infections in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are measures that can be taken to lower infection rates which are surprisingly easy.

  1. Cut down on red blood cell transfusions.

Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion strategies are a common treatment in the U.S. But, infection rates dropped by 20 percent when hospitals performed them less often.

  1. Educate patients and doctors about hand hygiene

It is the simplest one on the list, and a shock that it even needs to be on here. Yet, a large enough portion of healthcare workers resist the practice that it bears constant reminding.

  1. Embrace the latest technologies

This is a shameless plug because it works. Other industries have adopted information technologies to dramatically improve their quality, Healthcare is no different.

  1. Emphasize teamwork and communication

A study at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that a dedicated and educated housekeeping team reduced room infection by 89% of baseline.

  1. Consider using copper surfaces

A study published in the May 2013 issue of Infection Control and Epidemiology found that copper surfaces reduced the amount of health care-acquired infections by more than half.


Did you know that October 15, is Global Handwashing Day?

I didn’t until I wrote this article. Find out more information by visiting the globalhandwashing.org website.

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4 Great Tips for Any hospital CEO

Risk-quality-management-in-hospitals-happy-doctorHospital CEOs today bare an enormous weight of increasing healthcare quality and performance, while at the same time reducing costs. It is an overwhelming task for even seasoned healthcare executives — one that is made more difficult for many new CEOs who are just starting out and are battling age, and experience gaps.

In an exclusive interview with FierceHealthcare, Nicholas R. Tejeda, CEO of Doctors Hospital of Manteca (Calif.), a 73-bed facility affiliated with the Tenet Healthcare Corporation, talks about his own experience with experience-related perceptions, and offers some excellent leadership advise to hospital executive who find themselves in similar situations.

In the article, Tejeda offers this:

  1. Communication matters: Appearances do count, he said, which means you can’t dress and act young. “You can’t have spikey hair when you are young leader. Don’t act like a kid. It’s the message that matters.” 
  1. Respect the past: Young CEOs need to learn from the past and integrate those lessons into future decisions, he said. “Often people want to dismiss the past and forget the shoulders they are standing on. Ask about the past but don’t lose sight of the fact that you are supposed to translate those decisions to the future journey,” Tejeda said.
  1. But look to the future: “If people see you are doing things that benefit the organization in the long term, it will go a long way and they will begin to trust your decision-making and your willingness to work,” he said. “Don’t just do short-sighted things, like yelling, firing or making immediate cost-saving opportunities.” 
  1. Express curiosity: To overcome negative assumptions that staff will make about you as a young leader, take advantage of some expectations that work in your favor. For example, many staff think of young leaders as full of energy and eager to prove themselves. “If they expect it, allow it to be a tool and allow more experienced employees to implement what they want to do if it makes good business sense,” he said. Once staff see that you will take action and get organizational support for their projects, Tejeda said, even the youngest leader can quickly develop credibility and gain employees’ trust.

Though his comments were in response to issues facing younger executives, this is excellent advice, regardless of age or experience level. Engaging with staff to learn, and build trust is more important now than ever before.

With the number of changes and demands on healthcare facilities from both insurances and government entities, hospital staff is increasingly overwhelmed, and look to their leadership to chart a course through to calmer seas and better patient care. To help get there, CEOs should be willing to look for the insight and experience of their staff.

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NJ court says hospitals can keep internal error reviews private

A recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling has concluded that hospitals’ internal review reports written after adverse events occur should remain private. But, that doesn’t mean hospitals should not be tracking and reporting adverse events.

Under the ruling, the Valley Hospital of Ridgewood, New Jersey is allowed to keep secret a memo that was written after a roundtable discussion, following events that led to a 2007 malpractice suit alleging a newborn suffered brain damage as a result of negligent care during birth.

In the 4-3 majority ruling, the court said, “[t]he Legislature included in the Patient Safety Act a provision creating an absolute privilege. It reasoned that healthcare professionals and other facility staff are more likely to effectively assess adverse events in a confidential setting, in which an employee need not fear recrimination for disclosing his or her own medical error, or that of a colleague.”

The 2004 Patient safety Act, the Supreme Court was referring to, ensures the confidentiality of healthcare workers in order for them to be more forthcoming when a hospital error is made. Without this provision, hospital staff are less likely to report an adverse event for fear of being held liable. Doctors and nurses should feel they are protected, without the threat of reprisal, to share all information surrounding a bad outcome — allowing for timely and accurate incident reporting.

Timely and accurate incident reporting is essential to improving patient care by identifying adverse event trends due to bad practices, poor planning, or insufficient training. A study from the Journal of Patient Safety calculated the annual toll of preventable deaths due to medical errors in hospitals at as many as 440,000. The finding did not include tens of thousands more who die outside of hospitals from medical mistakes such as drug or diagnostic errors.

It can easily be argued that, in a hospital environment conducive to efficient incident reporting — where all staff feel secure to participate in a culture of quality — and with a robust, integrated Risk, Quality and Performance Improvement program, a large number of those 1,000 deaths per day are preventable.

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