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Tuesday, December 19, 2017 1:07 PM

62 Lives Saved: How One Hospital Reduced Sepsis Mortality Rates by 70%

Written by Frank Fortner, President and COO of Iatric Systems


When I was at the Fall CHIME conference in San Antonio, I attended a presentation by a customer of ours (Licking Memorial Health Systems in Ohio) on the topic “Leveraging Actionable Data to Combat Sepsis." With four excellent sessions to choose from, I attended this session because I was interested in the topic and because we offer multiple solutions to help with sepsis management. I always like to hear the customer perspective whenever possible, but I had no idea of what I was really walking into that day.

The Vice President of Information Systems, Sallie Arnett, told a deeply personal and moving story about how she had lost her father just two years ago to sepsis and how this had fueled her passion for educating others and making a difference for the patients at Licking Memorial. She told of how their mortality rate for sepsis patients was as high as 27% at one point, higher than both the state average of 19% (at the time) and state target of 15%. Sallie explained how they tried to improve this using some built-in rules within their MEDITECH EHR. While this helped, it didn’t really move the needle very far on their mortality rate.

Then she mentioned that their next step was to use Iatric Systems Visual SmartBoard™ as a sepsis surveillance tool. This, as you might imagine, caught my attention! I wasn’t expecting to hear our name mentioned. Even Colin Hung (the healthcare blogger) whom I was sitting next to, shot me that surprised look that said, “Dude, that’s your company!”

I was fully alert and listening intently as Sallie told how, by implementing our sepsis surveillance tool, her staff was (for the first time) able to see real improvement in reducing their sepsis mortality rate. In fact, by using Visual SmartBoard as part of the overall solution, Licking Memorial reduced their mortality rate by 70% — from 27% to less than 9% in two years. Remember, the state target was 15%. Further, Visual SmartBoard had captured every instance of sepsis, and code blue incidents dropped by 67%.

But what did that drop in the mortality rate equate to in terms of lives saved? Here’s where it all became even more real. Going from 27% to under 9% at Licking Memorial equated to 62 lives in 2016 alone. 62 people!

There I now sat at the end of the presentation, absolutely stunned. Did she just say 62 lives saved? Sallie and her team, through sheer persistence and determination, had done something amazing, and we were privileged to play a part with our software. The gravitas of that hit me hard, and I was undone. I wiped away one tear, then another. This is what it’s all about. This is the reason so many of us have chosen this field — the opportunity to make a difference in patient care and people’s lives.

For a minute or two after Sallie finished, I just sat there and thought of all the work our team had done to create a powerful tool that harnesses the MEDITECH EHR data in such a powerful way.

Then, I turned to Colin and politely excused myself. I just needed a moment. We all know healthcare IT can make a difference in patient care, but we rarely get to hear it in such real (human) context. This was a first for me, which may be why it hit me so powerfully.

Sixty-two people are walking the planet in part because of this initiative. And those are just the ones we know about. I don’t know that anything will ever top this feeling.

I’m so very proud of what Sallie and the incredible folks at Licking Memorial have accomplished and also proud of the role our team was able to play in that effort. As an industry, we need a lot more of this. Just imagine how many more lives could be saved.

Learn how to reduce sepsis mortality rates:
Visual SmartBoard
Sepsis Management