Healthcare News & Insights

Patient safety risks: How advance analytics & AI can drive improvements

As healthcare leaders and frontline responders continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re facing new challenges to keep patients safe. And with people constantly seeking testing and treatment for the virus, in addition to their current care plans, the system is placing a heavier than normal strain on its resources.

It’s estimated COVID-19 cost hospitals more than $160 billion from March to June for canceled elective surgeries alone. When you factor in increased costs associated with PPE and assisting frontline workers with transportation, housing, childcare, etc., the financial picture associated with the pandemic becomes extremely bleak.

While keeping patients safe within a care facility is the ultimate goal, the dire conditions associated with COVID-19 have administrators facing higher than normal facility costs in addition to the historic cost burden associated with patient risks. Thus, reducing risk, which influences the occurrence of adverse patient safety events, is not only key in improving costs associated with providing quality care, but also in preventing significant loss of revenue during this critical moment – which can hinder a facility’s ability to provide care in the future. This includes implementing preventive measures for some of the top patient risks identified, including falls, diagnostic errors and preventable infections.

In order to drive impactful changes, it’s important for organizations to have a full and unbiased understanding of an event, what led up to it and what measures need to be put into place to reduce its occurrence in the future. This requires healthcare organizations to implement solutions that leverage the abilities of predictive analytics and data-discovery tools, which can detect vulnerabilities within patterns and trends, and increase preparedness before, during and after an event.

To ensure the measures being implemented are addressing historic patient risks and the new care challenges associated with the pandemic, healthcare organizations need to use an integrated patient safety tool with the following three system requirements.

  • Advanced analytics – Through the use of AI and predictive analytics, healthcare organizations can take big, seemingly random data sets and organize them to uncover hidden patterns and trends (data discovery). The data is then converted into actionable insights based on fact-based queries to identify trends which aren’t influenced by any personal biases. Using AI, patient safety and/or risk management teams can have full insight into key factors before and after the event.
  • Event reporting and investigation – Without this insight, facilities will have incomplete data sets and be unable to address the root cause of the event. By using a centralized event reporting and investigation tool, healthcare organizations can quickly and easily report incidents in the proper manner, while empowering healthcare organizations to better understand patient safety events, improve the patient experience and elevate the facility’s patient safety culture.
  • Root cause analysis and action planning – Through root cause analysis and action planning, a timeline is developed to explore and display the possible causes of a certain event, allowing investigators and team members to focus on multiple root causes, as there is often more than one root cause that leads to a single incident. This tool also assists with creating data-driven reports based upon root causes, contributing factors, medical records, interviews and other key information gathered throughout the investigation that enable action plans. This improves an organization’s access to information throughout an investigation, as traditionally this information is documented on a whiteboard.

Although some healthcare workers manage patient safety more than others, keeping patients safe is everyone’s responsibility. Using a flexible and connective patient risk management solution, patient and risk management leaders can be better prepared to provide an environment free from harm by centralizing key information to enhance processes and procedures to further mitigate patient risks, continually drive operational efficiencies and reduce costs.

Author: Heather Annolino, RN, MBA, CPHRM, is the senior director of healthcare practice at Ventiv where she plays an integral part in developing Ventiv’s Patient Safety solutions. 

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