How one hospital uses EHR info to reduce bloodstream infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 250,000 bloodstream infections are caused by poor management of intravenous catheters, resulting in about 60,000 deaths per year. But a good vascular access monitoring program integrated with a hospital's electronic health record system can reduce that number--and reduce patient length of stay, according to Reginald Coopwood, M.D., president and CEO of Memphis, Tenn.-based Regional Medical Center.

Regional, a heavy trauma hospital, recently implemented an electronic vascular access program integrating catheter monitoring with its EHR so that the catheter information is available in one centralized system. Coopwood shared the hospital's decision and findings with FierceEMR in an exclusive interview.

FierceEMR: Why did you opt to move to electronic catheter monitoring?

Coopwood: We were having some issues with central line of infection. Technology makes it easier to manage and provides better surveillance and continuity of care.

FierceEMR:  How does it work?

Coopwood: We brought in a company that provides single entity management. It uses iPads running Filemaker Go 12 to collect patient data, and integrates it with the EHR. It helps us track the lines so every PICC line insert has data of how long the line has been in and problems with the line.

The information goes right into the EHR so that the caregivers have it. It's a great piece of technology. It gives recent updates to the doctors and nurses. It's really been a benefit.   

FierceEMR: Why did you go with an outside vascular access program?

Coopwood:  Many hospitals are putting together their own vascular access team. I spent extra time to do the math, and it was an incremental cost [to bring in a contractor]. We are getting great service and around the clock access. It would have been prohibitive to replicate internally what [the contractor] does. CFOs are great people to have, but they want to know where we get a return.

FierceEMR: What kind of results have you seen?

Coopwood: It's certainly good for the patients. We've dropped lengths of stay a day in the past six to eight months in part because of this.

It's also reduced our costs because of the reduced length of stay and reduced number of infections, plus less nurse time, antibiotics, etc. It's a hard number to scrape together, but it all adds up.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.