Case Study: Intermountain Healthcare Improves Outcomes with Evidence-Based Care

In Utah, Intermountain Healthcare has developed its own evidence-based protocols, which have standardized care and made remarkable improvements in patient outcomes. These protocols not only improve the quality of care but also hold down the growth of healthcare costs.

The Process: 

Under the direction of Chief Quality Officer Brent James, committees of physicians, nurses and administrators try to identify variations in care and determine which treatments are—and are not—effective. Then, based on their findings and other research, they develop protocols to improve outcomes. Once the protocols are implemented, the committees meet once a month to review and refine the guidelines, set clinical goals and track patient outcomes through the facility’s computer system.

An essential element of Intermountain’s protocols is the recognition that no one can write a protocol that applies perfectly to every patient because individuals vary so greatly. So even though the protocols provide default choices, such as how much of a certain drug to prescribe, doctors and nurses have the option of overriding them. Of course, their choices—and the outcomes—are tracked. If effective, they may be used to improve the protocol. If not, the practitioner may need to meet with a supervisor to discuss what they may be doing wrong.

The Result: 

Now with evidence-based protocols for about 50 clinical conditions (which account for about half of Intermountain’s patients), this 23-hospital system has:

  • Reduced the number of preterm births—and infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.
  • Halved the number of adverse drug events, including overdoses and allergic reactions.
  • Decreased the mortality rate from one broad category of pneumonia by 40%.
  • Cut the death rate for coronary bypass surgery to 1.5%, compared with the national average of about 3%.
  • Significantly lowered readmission rates for patients with heart failure and pneumonia.

Conservative estimates suggest that the changes at Intermountain have saved thousands of lives a year.

Intermountain’s dedication to quality also extends to nursing education. As a Mosby’s eLearning client, Intermountain has used such products as the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Emergency Nursing Orientation and ENA: Emergency Nursing Triage online courses to great effect. 

“Just as we aim to standardize care throughout our system, we try to standardize nursing education, too. That way, ER nurses in our small rural facilities get the same solid education in baseline concepts as ER nurses in our large flagship hospital. Before we used Mosby’s eLearning online courses, from Elsevier | MC Strategies, each of our 21 ERs would develop their own orientation programs, which could vary greatly. Now with the online courses, preliminary measures indicate that our nurses feel better prepared, which should allow them to deliver standardized care consistently across our healthcare system.”
-Wayne Watson, Intermountain’s Director of Clinical Operations

To see how Mosby’s eLearning courses can help improve the quality of care at your facility and check out the ENA: Emergency Nursing Triage or ENA: Emergency Nursing Orientation courses, contact [email protected], or call 1-866-416-6697. 

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