Collaboration is the essence of Partners HealthCare’s mission. Across our hospitals and 6,000 physicians, efforts are underway—every day—to enhance quality for our patients through interdisciplinary partnerships that uncover new insights and strengthen our standards of care. From time to time, we will highlight on Connect with Partners specific ways that our clinical collaborations are benefitting the care we deliver for conditions that most impact our patients.
Our first case in point: sepsis, a condition that is extraordinarily common yet highly elusive when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. Though sepsis is responsible for a full third of hospital deaths, its signs can be difficult to spot in the course of care. Its incidence across many patient populations, however, make it a prime candidate for cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing. Sepsis management is particularly vital within the context of broader efforts to enhance hospital outcomes and contain costs, since the condition is the US health care system’s costliest—representing $24 billion annually (CDC).
At Partners, sepsis care was identified as a clinical collaboration opportunity, and an initiative was led by the academic medical centers and community hospitals to enhance measurement and management of sepsis among patients in Partners’ Intensive Care Units. Recognizing that sepsis care could only be improved once clinical guidelines were shared and adopted all along the care continuum—from early diagnosis throughout symptom management—the collaboration focused on creating a “Sepsis Navigator” framework within the Partners eCare medical records system.
The Navigator is comprised of a set of tools that leverage Partners eCare’s shared network. Together, they advance sepsis care in three ways:
• They enable care providers across specialties and departments to better manage and share information. One challenge when it comes to managing sepsis is a lack of clear insight into the condition’s full breadth. The tools shed light on the incidence and care of sepsis in individuals and across the patient population. With input from physicians, nurses, and others, the system becomes more and more rich with quality-improving data on patients and outcomes.
• They support physicians, nurses, and other caregivers in managing patients already known or suspected to have sepsis. With built-in clinical guidelines, the system helps Partners clinicians adhere to the most up-to-date best practices and regulatory requirements. And that same information is used by the next care team once patients are transferred out to other departments.
• They actively notify physicians in real-time when diagnostic markers of sepsis arise. Certain laboratory values trigger alerts in the system, with pop-ups that question caregivers whether early signs associated with sepsis may be worth pursuing.
In addition to immediately benefitting Partners hospital patients, the framework may help guide national efforts to coalesce around more defined sepsis identification and care. Partners investigators recently led a multicenter CDC-funded initiative with this shared aim. “Our goal with this and all clinical collaboration efforts at Partners is to use the clinical expertise and technology we have at our fingertips to ensure that our wealth of multidisciplinary institutional knowledge is at work for each and every patient,” says Partners Chief Quality and Safety Officer Thomas Sequist, MD.