Electronic surveillance helps hospitals slash death rates

The use of an electronic physiological surveillance system (EPSS) on patients correlated with two United Kingdom hospitals slashing mortality rates by more than 15 percent over the course of a year, according to research published online this week in BMJ Quality & Safety.

For the study, the researchers retrospectively examined the use of EPSS software--which streamlined the process of recording patient vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse--at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth and University Hospital, Coventry; according to The Mirror, nurses deployed the software on mobile devices, including iPads, iPods and smartphones.

The former hospital experienced 397 fewer deaths over the course of a year, while the latter recorded 372 fewer patient deaths.

"At both hospitals, multiyear statistical process control analyses revealed abrupt and sustained mortality reductions, coincident with the deployment and increasing use of the system," the authors said.

Duncan Watson, one of the study's authors, told The Mirror that such tools free up clinical staffers to focus primarily on patient care.

"This technology improves the performance of routine but important tasks," Watson said.

Lead author Paul Schmidt added that paper charts, in his estimation, were not improving patient care.

"Observing patients and making accurate records provides a safety net to guard against their deterioration," Schmidt told The Mirror.

Similarly, a report published last month by HIMSS Analytics determined that hospital electronic health records use correlated with both predicted and reduced mortality.

The researchers in that study used data from more than 4,500 acute-care facilities in the U.S. on 32 different procedures and condition-based clinical groups. They then determined a predicted mortality rate and compared it to the actual mortality rate to see if a hospital performed better or worse than expected, and then compared it to each hospital's level of EHR adoption, using HIMSS' Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM).

The EPSS software now is installed at 40 hospitals throughout the U.K., according to The Mirror; ultimately, plans include a nationwide deployment.

To learn more:
- here's the BMJ Quality & Safety abstract
- read The Mirror's article