Akron Children’s Hospital was named a recipient of the Davies Award of Excellence, presented by the nonprofit Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics. Our hospital also achieved the highest possible ranking from HIMSS for our use of the electronic health record (EHR) throughout the organization.
The Davies Award of Excellence recognizes quality improvements achieved through health information and technology strategies as demonstrated by these projects: reducing the use of narcotics following surgery, improving screening rates for lead poisoning in children and standardizing care for faster recoveries in scoliosis surgery.
Akron Children’s has invested more than $50 million in Epic, our EHR platform, which was implemented in 2012. By 2018, we achieved HIMSS Stage 7 – the highest possible ranking for EHR adoption – for inpatient care. Our latest designation recognizes our attainment of Stage 7 adoption for outpatient care.
We join just 13% of outpatient clinics nationwide in achieving this designation, which examines healthcare organizations and how they use technology to support optimized patient care, reduce medication errors, improve operational objectives and achieve a near-paperless environment.
“Akron Children’s understands the important role that information technology plays in providing quality care to our patients,” said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO. “These honors from HIMSS are a testament to the positive results we’ve seen by using our electronic health record in new ways to help children live healthier, happier lives.”
One of the projects that helped earn the Stage 7 designation was our system-wide implementation of the Zero Suicide initiative. Within Epic, we’ve built an evidence-based tool to assess suicide risk in patients. The screening tools were introduced initially with behavioral health providers and eventually expanded to all primary care sites and emergency departments over a two-year period.
“We are proud to be among the select group of hospitals to reach Stage 7 with HIMSS and receive the Davies Award,” said Harun Rashid, chief information officer. “These achievements show that Akron Children’s has embraced technology to enhance patient safety, organizational excellence and quality, which means better outcomes for our patients and families.”
Davies Award of Excellence
The Davies Award recognizes the thoughtful application of health information and technology to substantially improve clinical care delivery, patient outcomes and population health. To be considered for this award, hospitals must have already achieved HIMSS Stage 7.
In our application, we showcased three initiatives that leveraged technology to drive positive clinical outcomes:
- Reducing post-surgery narcotics – As the opioid crisis grew into a national epidemic, the nine pediatric orthopedic surgeons at Akron Children’s began analyzing their own pain medication subscribing practices in relation to that of their peers. This led to a standardized protocol in the EHR for pain prescription guidelines based on the surgery’s complexity and anticipated pain level, as well as home-going instructions for pain management. “The new prescribing guidelines have reduced the amount of narcotics prescribed after surgery by approximately 44%, while maintaining good pain control during recovery,” said Dr. Kerwyn Jones, pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
- Improving lead poisoning screening rates – In order to improve lead screening rates for our young patients, we integrated tools into the EHR to help flag those who should be screened at well-child visits (12-months-5 years). This included identifying those at high risk based on targeted zip codes, as well as those with a previously elevated blood lead level. This resulted in the creation of an electronic lead registry, which has improved the identification, tracking and management of patients with lead exposure.
- Standardizing care for scoliosis surgery – The electronic medical record was also instrumental in standardizing best practices of care for scoliosis patients – from the time surgery is scheduled through the hospital stay and follow-up care coordination once the patient goes home.“The scoliosis surgery pathway has reduced pain and nausea scores, dramatically reduced the need for blood transfusions, and expedited mobility and recovery after surgery,” said Dr. Todd Ritzman, interim chair of Pediatric Orthopedics. “In the first full year of implementation, none of our patients have required intensive care admissions or readmissions to the hospital. The average length of stay after surgery has been reduced from 6 to 3 days.”
In addition to the recent HIMSS honors, Akron Children’s recently achieved the Most Wired distinction for the sixth consecutive year. The Most Wired survey provides industry-level benchmarks for IT adoption for operational systems, security, patient engagement and clinical performance, and recognizes organizations with exceptionally high IT systems and integration throughout their enterprise.