Clinical Pathways: Making Best Practices Better

This story is part of a series on MTS’ growing usage of clinical decision support (CDS) tools. CDS tools collect best practices derived from the latest clinically verified research, then delivers them to providers right at the point of care, inserting recommendations into daily workflows at times when they can be the most useful to doctors.

In 2016, Mercy made national news for building new Clinical Pathways designed to treat pneumonia and heart failure. Integrated with our EHR and unique to Mercy’s version of Epic, these CDS tools reduced mortality rates for heart failure patients by 50 percent, and in the process, they saved Mercy more than $27 million in the first year of use alone. As a result, Mercy was presented with HIMSS’ prestigious Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence.


Clinical Pathways decision support


Today, MTS and Mercy continue to build out our Clinical Pathways, with a goal of integrating these care methodologies for 80 percent of our most commonly treated conditions into our Epic EHR. By providing evidence-based treatments, providers can reduce length of stay, increase patient satisfaction, save lives and reduce health care costs.

When choosing a pathway to develop, Mercy considers a number of important factors, including how many lives that pathway will potentially touch, as well as what unique challenges are related to those conditions. For example, colectomy – a colon surgical procedure – has one the longest lengths of stay for inpatient surgery. Infection rates are high and complications occur often.

Incorporating an evidence-based approach called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) into our EHR via a Clinical Pathway has helped Mercy reduce patient mortality by 50 percent, cut readmissions by 20 percent and shorten length of stay by 2.4 days. Plus, direct variable cost has been reduced by $1,900 per case for colectomy patients treated on the pathway.

But technological advances are only one step in the process. “Clinical operational processes make a huge difference,” said Ursula Wright, MTS’ vice president of clinical redesign and optimization. “That’s why we have teams on-site in locations rolling out new Care Pathways to help reduce variation and standardize our methodology.”

These clinical pathways are available as add-ons to the Epic EHR system MTS offers to its commercial clients, as well as for other hospitals and health systems using Epic.


To learn more about CDS tools available through MTS:
Check out our white paper "EHR 2.0: How Clinical Decision Support Tools
Are Helping Clinicians Make Smarter Decisions at the Point of Care"


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