STAGE 7 SPOTLIGHT Sutter Health: Reducing Transcription Costs by Over $4M

HIMSS Analytics

Northern California's Sutter Health is an integrated delivery network of more than 5,000 physicians and 48,000 employees. The network provides comprehensive care to over 3,000,000 patients annually in more than 100 communities, including acute and ambulatory care settings, home health and hospice services, outpatient surgery and specialty care centers, medical research and training programs. Their electronic medical record adoption model (EMRAM) implementation serves as prime example of a network that puts patients first and provides innovative care.

The Challenge

According to Sutter Health's CEO Patrick Fry, "A tremendous amount of health care expense—perhaps more than one fifth— is largely due to poorly coordinated care, over treatment and variation." This poses a challenge for any healthcare provider network, but for the largest geographically contiguous, non-profit system in the United States, it impacts millions of lives and costs enormous sums of money.

Sutter Health embarked on a journey to design a technology implementation strategy that would support a patient-centric, evidence-based care delivery model that promotes essential clinical collaboration between interdisciplinary teams, reduces unwarranted clinical variation, and engages patients to be co-partners in improving their health. In short, Sutter aimed to empower their clinical teams to leverage health IT innovation in how care is delivered.

The Implementation

The history of Sutter's innovation starts in the late 1990s, when they partnered with Epic. The first Sutter Health ambulatory care clinics implemented Epic in 1999, and they subsequently launched one of the country's earliest implementations of Epic's MyChart, called My Health Online, in 2001. In order to support a consistent, seamless patient experience, Sutter Health extended the early implementation of the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) as a single instance across its ambulatory and acute care delivery network.

Today, this represents the largest single instance of the Epic EMR in the world with over 10 million patient records. By leveraging My Health Online, over 60% of actively enrolled ambulatory patients and over 1 million patients total can access their data and collaborate with their care teams to improve the health of their families. This ecosystem of integrated care teams and engaged communities of patients has empowered Sutter Health to create new opportunities for care delivery.

The Results

Sutter Health's launch of My Health Online has created new opportunities for clinical care, convenience and patient outreach. To date, over 1 million patients have exchanged 4 million secure patient messages, booked 1 million appointments and viewed 25 million lab results, enabling faster response times and streamlined scheduling and payments. Some other incredible results from the implementation include:

  • A three-fold increase in patient adherence to mammogram and cervical cancer screening recommendations.
  • Discovery of over 140 previously undiagnosed hepatitis C patients now potentially eligible for treatment to achieve sustained virological response (cure).
  • Reduced mortality from severe sepsis or septic shock from 19% to 11% within 4 months of implementing a novel clinical decision support program.
  • A reduction of transcription costs by over $4 million.

The Takeaway

The most successful healthcare networks take advantage of every opportunity to care for patients. Sutter Health's implementation of the EMR and EMRAM validation has integrated a geographically disperse health system under a singular goal of improving the care experience.

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