"We compared ourselves to 42 other children's hospitals who submit their mortality data to the Child Health Corporation of America [CHCA] database," says lead author Christopher Longhurst, MD, medical director of clinical informatics at LPCH and clinical professor at Stanford. "In 2008 and 2009, we became the single lowest-adjusted mortality facility of any of these other 42 hospitals."
According to Longhurst, the authors of the study were pleased when mortality rates began to decline nine months after implementation. When they continued to decline after 12 months and then 15 months, authors went back and ran their statistics to verify the significance of their findings. At that point, they decided they needed to conduct a study to share these revealing data with other sites, says Longhurst.
Saving lives by saving time
Using the system to reduce unnecessary wastes of time was the biggest catalyst to lowering mortality rates at LPCH. When the hospital studied its turnaround times for laboratory, radiology, and medication orders, it found a significant decrease in the time from when a clinician placed an order to the time someone acted on it by conducting a radiology exam or administering medication.
"There's a lot of waste in the system associated with paper orders that involve faxing, tubing, or people having to find the order rather than having it pop up automated on a work list," says Longhurst. "In some of those cases, we cut those turnaround times in half. It's not hard to imagine that getting medication to a critically ill child five or 10 minutes faster can actually have an outcomes impact."
Speeding up order entry processes not only results in faster order completion, it also helps hasten a physician's access to laboratory and radiology results, says Widen.