Supporters Wish To Establish Oregon’s Hospital Capacity Technology As A National Tool

This week’s wildfires serve as a reminder that Oregon is one of the only states in the US to have the technology to give medical officials access to a real-time, statewide dashboard of staffed hospital beds, ventilators, and resources like negative pressure rooms.

A dashboard is a useful tool for Staci Sparks, vice president of nursing at Asante, a three-hospital system in southern Oregon. Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center was near a wildfire evacuation zone just two years ago.

We were attempting to determine whether we needed to evacuate individuals at that time, she says. “They had nowhere else to go in this area. We are rather geographically isolated and operating at high capacity. This approach allowed us to look at the state to determine which hospitals had beds and the necessary resources, as well as where to send patients.”

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The system was built in 2020 to handle hospital capacity issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic using the technology of the GE Healthcare Command Center. With state funding, it not only survived and grew beyond the pandemic’s peak but was also spun off into Apprise Health Insights from its incubator at Oregon Health & Science University.

According to CEO Andy Van Pelt, who is also executive vice president of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS), under which Apprise Health Insights is run as a for-profit subsidiary and data arm of the organisation, the company is still looking for funding from Oregon and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The state is gradually replacing its outdated technology infrastructure with a real-time dashboard that makes it easier to quickly move patients to the best facilities as needed. 85% of the 300 data fields in the historical system have been automated so far by the new system, according to Van Pelt.

According to him, the movement speeds up all reporting while also freeing up workers who had been working on the manual reporting procedures in the earlier system

According to Van Pelt, the governance committee is composed of individuals from the health system patient coordination and patient flow who represent the seven trauma zones spread out over the state of Oregon. They have monthly meetings with the state, and we develop policies, processes, and workflows outlining how, when, and why data can be used.

He claims that Apprise Health Insights manages all data feeds, hosts the system and web dashboard, teaches users how to use it, and onboards them.

Because of this flaming platform, Sparks claims that the pandemic was easier to survive than the aftermath. The staffed bed crunch is over “provided us some time to reflect thereafter and consider how to approach this differently from a local and state viewpoint. And take note of those lessons and use them in other potential instances.”

Understanding the potential and constraints of a system powered by data uploads from electronic medical records is one aspect of that.

According to Sparks, electronic medical records don’t always have the best reputation in the field. “Future generations will need to see technology for what it is: a tool. The goal is to make it simple to do the right thing for patient care as well as the workload of our staff members.”

Van Pelt claims that this is essentially a test of one’s ability to develop trust. “It generates a set of useful data that may be used to make decisions that will ultimately affect how quickly, effectively, and appropriately a patient is treated. We had to evacuate five hospitals during the course of a 24-hour period during the Labor Day fires in September 2020. We appreciated having this in its first form.”

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About a dozen states are in discussion with Apprise Health Insights about implementing this technology. Additionally, according to Van Pelt, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon has proposed legislation to update real-time data for hospital statistics and emergency response across the country.

Ann Zink, the chief medical officer for Alaska, is “one of our good friends” and is considering legislation to update capacity-type data across the nation, according to Van Pelt.

Sparks, the first vice president of nursing for the entire system, uses the dashboard to advance in her new position as vice president of nursing at Asante.

I’ve had a severe learning curve for the first four months, she claims. “It spends more time observing and listening than acting or making decisions. This will change in six to twelve months. Before requesting adjustments from others or making decisions that have a significant impact on their job, you must have a clear understanding of the situation.”

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