Let’s all play our part to ad­vance pa­tient safety

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By Joe Kiani and Robert J. Szczerba

When Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370 dis­ap­peared in March with 239 souls aboard, the world searched for an­swers. They’re still search­ing. Ev­ery year, more than 200,000 pre­ventable deaths oc­cur in the U.S., the equiv­a­lent of two Flight 370s ev­ery day. Here’s how we can re-en­gi­neer our way to sav­ing lives: Trans­parency:

Health­care-as­so­ci­ated in­fec­tions alone cost as much as $45 bil­lion and kill as many as 99,000 people an­nu­ally, but we do not have a stan­dard­ized mea­sure to re­port all in­fec­tions. We can’t im­prove what we can’t ac­cu­rately count. HHS should re­quire hos­pi­tals to de­fine, mea­sure and elec­tron­i­cally re­port all known HAIs. These data will al­low for bet­ter qual­ity com­par­isons. In­cen­tives:

Hos­pi­tals are pe­nal­ized for hospi­tal-ac­quired con­di­tions that are high-cost, high-vol­ume or both. This ap­proach fails to ad­dress many fa­tal prob­lems. Congress should ex­pand cur­rent Medi­care pol­icy to in­clude a list of causes of pre­ventable death. If a death was pre­ventable, and a hospi­tal failed to im­ple­ment ev­i­dence-based strate­gies for preven­tion, the hospi­tal wouldn’t get paid. But if a hospi­tal faith­fully im­ple­mented rec­og­nized safety strate­gies, it would re­ceive pay­ment, as well as lim­its on mal­prac­tice dam­ages. In­ter­op­er­abil­ity:

More than a dozen med­i­cal de­vices can be hooked to a pa­tient, but those de­vices are hand­i­capped if they can’t com­mu­ni­cate with each other. Providers should com­mit to buy­ing only de­vices that can share data—the data they were pur­chased to dis­play, par­tic­u­larly when tax­payer dol­lars are in­volved. Data ac­cess:

Data ac­ces­si­bil­ity is the com­pan­ion of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity—both are es­sen­tial to cre­ate a pa­tient data “su­per­high­way.” This high­way car­ries all pa­tient data, such as in­for­ma­tion from vi­tal-signs mon­i­tors, labs, ra­di­ol­ogy and other sources. With this sys­tem de­liv­er­ing HIPAA-com­pli­ant pa­tient data, pre­dic­tive al­go­rithms can help de­tect omi­nous trends be­fore it’s too late. Pa­tients also must be able to ac­cess to their own health in­for­ma­tion from med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy.

Ev­ery part of health­care bears some blame for pre­ventable deaths; ev­ery part owns re­spon­si­bil­ity to pre­vent them.

Joe Kiani is CEO of Masimo Corp., a maker of safety-re­lated med­i­cal de­vices, and founder of the Pa­tient Safety Move­ment Foun­da­tion. Robert J. Szczerba is CEO of X Tech Ven­tures, a tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tancy.

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