When St. Louis-based Mercy received their HIMSS Davies Enterprise Award in 2017, they were recognized specifically for their expansion of clinical pathways to treat patients with heart failure. Clinical pathways are standardized care processes for a certain diagnosis, used to guide nurses and physicians through the various steps of treatment.
By optimizing these workflows and increasing physicians’ use of pathways, Mercy reduced the average door-to-diuretic time of heart failure patients by almost three hours. When it comes to heart failure, three hours can mean the difference between life and death, and Mercy’s results show that well. The mortality rate for heart failure patients has decreased by more than 50% since they fully implemented their pathway.
On top of their patient care achievements, Mercy’s pathway optimization ended up saving them money. According to a case study they presented to HIMSS, Mercy reduced direct variable costs for patients on clinical pathways by about $10 million in FY2015 and $17 million in the first three quarters of FY2016. On average, this works out to a reduction of about $800 spent per patient.