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Published on August 02, 2022

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Clinical Intelligence 'Super Heroes' Help Patients Save Time and Money

In a complex health system, it’s good to have quiet agents of change who work to solve problems and make patient experiences better.

That’s what Avera’s Clinical Intelligence (CI) team does behind the scenes: they help improve teams’ efficiency, from surgery to billing and coding. This small group loves a challenge, and they serve teams at any Avera location.

The benefits of this cross-system approach can multiply quickly. Processes that are easier for employees means they can spend more time with patients. Time and money saved is passed to Avera patients, customers and their families.

“I feel sorry for my peers elsewhere who don’t have the same tools we have,” said Beth Fiddelke, RN, Avera Dells Area Hospital discharge planner.

Fiddelke covers a wide range of quality initiatives at this critical access hospital and was among the first teams who worked with Avera CI.

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require reports that in the past could be a week’s worth of work,” Fiddelke said. “Now, thanks to the tools CI created, we can finish one in about 30 minutes.”

Here are a few examples the benefits at Avera.

Many Teams, Many Needs – From Billing to Surgery

When Avera Specialty Hospital opened in southwest Sioux Falls, leaders realized a real-time tracking system was needed. With dozens of surgeries scheduled every day, the hospital is like a busy airport – nothing can be left to chance.

After reviewing existing systems, the surgery team turned to Avera CI. They devised an “air traffic control” system for the new hospital that used existing monitors and equipment, described Justin Snyder, Assistant Vice President of Surgery Services for Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, the Avera Surgical Center and the Avera Specialty Hospital.

The CI team devised a monitoring program, along with an easy-to-use dashboard, that keeps all the “planes on time.” Patients spend less time waiting, throughout their experience at the surgical hospital – including in procedure rooms, recovery, at check-in — everywhere.

“Real-time tracking has huge value. Patients like the fact we stay on schedule,” said Snyder. “An automated process enhances safety as well.”

The system Avera built in-house makes sure surgeons know where to be, when and who their next patient will be. An important outcome is an improved patient experience.

Clinicians can focus their full attention on patients, and decision-support tools at the point of care can lead to improved quality.

CI continues to add improvements to the surgery tracking system; its success has led Avera’s InnovationLab team to begin exploring the value of the tool in the health care marketplace.

Saving the Most Important Thing – Time

The tens of thousands of individual codes covering everything from sepsis to a separated shoulder in health care are complicated – even for the experts. Finding ways to more-efficiently sort through them helps coders, billing staff – and their customers.

“CI was great – they took the information we were compiling manually and found ways to automate it,” said Brittney Luze, Avera’s Director of Coding Services. “This saves us time and resources. That helps Avera overall.”

“Our analysts enjoy helping a wide range of teams find ways to succeed and save time," said Stacy Reck, Avera Director of Clinical Documentation Improvement & Utilization Review.

Moving Health Forward Through Innovation

Teams across Avera are always looking for new ways to serve patients and communities.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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