Posted on behalf of Paul Actis, Senior VP, Research and Development
To begin with, I’d like to say Chicago is a GREAT walking city.   They really know how to take advantage of Lake Michigan as there are miles of trails that seem to go on forever.  It is also comforting to know Chicago walkers feel that they own the streets similar to those in Boston, and that the Walk signs are pretty much optional.
On to Day Two’s sessions……
Session 1              The first session I attended was ‘Workshop.  Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Drive Operational Excellence’.  When you think of AI, a healthcare setting is not the first environment that comes to mind.
Much of what the speakers discussed was having to do on the operations end rather than clinical.  This is where you will be able to get the greatest ROI with least effort.   It mainly focused on robotic automation (not so dissimilar to what Summit Scripting Toolkit can do).
The main idea is to simplify how healthcare operates and try to provide standardization across enterprises.    This includes virtualization, time keeping, insurance authorization, tele-medicine, clinical operations and imaging.
One of the biggest questions was regarding how to get this initiative to succeed.  First concentrating on operations rather than clinical support to get a quicker proof of concept and including all departments (especially OPS) early on for buy in into the project.   It looks like AI is coming into play for the healthcare market.
Session 2              Session two concentrated on the financial aspects of healthcare (actually, when you think of it, all sessions eventually have some cost impacts).  Workshop.  Healthcare’s Fatal Flaw.  9 of 10 Providers and Executives Don’t Know Their Costs.
This session threw a lot of numbers out, which was eye opening.

    • $ 3.5 Trillion is spent on healthcare every year in US
    • $ 2.5 Trillion through hospitals with 80% of those costs going to clinical decision making.
    • 90% of US Hospitals don’t have a cost accounting system or the one they have is out of date.

These are some pretty staggering statistics.  The US needs to get better with their cost measures.  A way to attack it that was mentioned is the whole concept of yearly budgeting.  The static nature of that may be obsolete and some hospitals are going to a more rolling forecast.   Since the budgetary process itself can take up to 6 months, this allows operations to be nimbler.  Now the review is more focused on those activities that are occurring that were not planned, and how to manage them in the future
Another recurring theme is around re-admission rates (and we’ll see how that is tackled from a different perspective in Session 3).  To alleviate that, a suggestion is to alert the physicians when re-admissions are occurring.  This allows them to take proper action and be more pro-active in the future care of that patient.
Session 3              The final session  of the day was ‘Workshop.  Reducing Length of Stay, Readmissions and Cost of Care with Quality Improvement.  Real World Evidence from One Health System’.   I thought this was going to be another “cost of readmissions” discussion but the way it was presented was quite interesting.
The theme revolved around improving patient outcomes through nutritional care.  The first time I heard any mention of nutrition throughout the conference.   When researched, nutritional care is not high on the list of prescribed instructions.  It is estimated that 30-50% of patients admitted are malnourished, so the idea of helping them with their diet could perhaps decrease readmissions.
It was shown that malnutrition greatly increases:

      • Readmissions
      • Length of Stays
      • Higher Complication Rates
      • Increased Cost of Care

To see if nutritional care could work, four hospitals implemented Quality Improvement Project (QIP) in two different models: Basic and Enhanced.  For Basic, nutrition diets were ordered.  In the Enhanced model, nutrition diets were ordered AND delivered.
The results were pretty telling.
29% reduction in Readmission Rates
26% reduction in Length of Stays
4.8M six-month cost savings
With these types of numbers, we will probably see more hospitals taking nutritional care more seriously.
That’s about it for today.   For tomorrow, I’m not sure how I got lucky enough to be invited to a 7AM session.  it’s been an enjoyable two days and I appreciate the opportunity Becker’s provided.  It’s much different on the other side of the aisle with regards to attending rather than exhibiting.    There are many more chances to interact with people and fully concentrate on the sessions.    Look forward to next year’s event.