Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hosptial Stanford is both a pediatrics and obstetrics hospital with approximately 320 beds that support around 15,000 annual admissions. It’s also a quaternary care children’s hospital, taking referrals from all over the world. The facility performs more solid organ transplants in children than any other hospital in the country, and it has a top-rated pediatric cardiac program. It goes without saying that the slightest disturbance in the organization’s workflows can equate to tragedy.
I spoke with Dr. Christopher A. Longhurst, Chief Medical Information Officer, Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford to learn more about the organization and its most recent healthcare IT accomplishments since publishing the first decrease in hospital-wide mortality with an electronic health record implementation.
(Editor’s note: To hear audio excerpts of this interview, click on the media player buttons that run throughout this article.)
Free: Our industry tends to speak in very broad strokes when discussing healthcare IT. Could you comment on how has health information technology impacted pediatric care in particular?
I think it’s important to acknowledge that there’s also unintended consequences of health information technology rollouts like electronic health records, and so we have to have our eyes wide open recognizing those unintended consequences and working to mitigate those. That being said, it’s clear that the reason that those projects were undertaken was to improve quality and safety.
Free: Your organization has experienced a great deal of success in areas where many others have struggled. Could you please describe some of those successes?
The optimization of our electronic health record over the last five or six years has resulted in a number of benefits. We have published, for example, that we have dramatically decreased overutilization of blood transfusions. That was made possible through an alert in our electronic health record that saved the hospital both money and not unnecessarily exposing children to blood products. We also have found that we have increased our compliance of best practices for caring for children with asthma with forcing functions within documentation in their electronic health record. More recently, we have converted from one electronic health record vendor to another. We just recently published the approach that we use for training all of our medical staff and the value of having clinicians do that training rather than software experts for example.
Free: Your organization has a Clinical Informatics Department. How does that department function within your facility?
Lomghurst: The Clinical Informatics Department was launched with the foresight of our hospital leadership in 2007 when we went live with our first electronic health record. Its role is to serve as a bridge between the information technologists and the clinicians. The clinical informatists are interpreters who speak both languages. They help to bring the needs of the clinicians and patients to bear in the IT department. They work with the IT department to configure solutions, then they help to communicate solutions back to the clinicians for adoption.