Although Dr. Sands says his colleagues continue to work to improve their CAUTI rates, an endeavor that preceded the CMS program, he is seeking better training for his coding staff and is working within the medical center’s electronic health record (EHR) to ensure accurate and consistent reporting.
At small, rural Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in southern Delaware, which is not at risk of HAC penalties next year, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer Penny Short says the hospital is currently adopting a “pretty robust” EHR to assist clinicians with early identification of sepsis and other risks. She says there is a lot more that EHRs can do to assist in patient safety, and hospitalists at her institution have been at the helm, driving progress.
It’s an approach Dr. Jha advocates for moving the needle forward in identifying better patient safety metrics. Meaningful use of EHRs provides clinically based, high quality metrics that can be captured far more effectively than the billing record, he says, offering an “automated approach as a routine part of the delivery of health care for tracking and potentially identifying adverse events.”
It’s up to physician leaders, Dr. Jha says—indeed, it is their moral responsibility—to encourage their CEOs to make these investments. And it’s something he believes CMS should get behind as well.
“Is this going to be cheap and easy? No,” Dr. Jha says. “Does CMS have the capacity to say hospitals have to invest? I think they do.
“I think we can do so much better. The opportunity to do so much better is right now.”
Kelly April Tyrrell is a freelance writer in Madison, Wis.