Joined at the hip. That is how Richard Zane, MD, chair of the department of emergency medicine at University of Colorado and chief innovation officer at UCHealth, describes his work with UCHealth Chief Information Officer Steve Hess. Hess in turn characterizes the 12-hospital network’s IT and innovation strategies as one and the same. “Everything we do with innovation gets embedded in the IT platform and vice versa,” Hess says.
UCHealth utilizes its electronic medical record system and connected capabilities as the backbone of the CARE Innovation Center as the healthcare system partners with leading industry and startups to develop technologies that are revolutionizing healthcare.
As a result, UCHealth has been able to roll out programs like its Virtual Health Center, a centralized command center 5.5 miles from the system’s largest medical campus and staffed with technicians, nurses and physicians who remotely monitor patients 24/7. A virtual care team means local caregivers can focus on patients rather than alarms.
UCHealth recently launched a virtual surveillance project at University of Colorado Hospital targeting sepsis, which can rapidly progress to death but is reversible if treated near the onset. “Early data has shown that we are intervening on sepsis two hours earlier than prior to the process,” Hess says. “Early indications are it is game changing.”
The sepsis surveillance program receives data from wearables, lab results and other sources that is fed into four algorithms running in real time and consolidated into a sepsis risk score that virtual health nurses can review and share with local nurses. The combined four algorithms are both sensitive and specific, which is a significant improvement over existing tools, Zane says.
“We are using sepsis surveillance as a case study,” Zane says. “What we are really dedicated to is surveillance in general. When we talk about our innovation strategy, we think about intelligence writ large. Intelligence for us means helping healthcare make better decisions.”
This is one of many examples of innovation at UCHealth, which has earned Most Wired’s Level 10 certification and a Superior Performance Excellence Award.