As the health care industry continues its rapid transformation, hospitals and health systems are putting patients at the center and finding ways to raise the overall standard of care in communities. Through an “open source” partnership approach to hospital expertise, lives are being saved and health care delivery is more seamless.

Identifying care protocols that extend beyond hospital walls

This commitment is leading hospitals to make many of their experts and best practices broadly available to care providers, other hospitals and community organizations so that the approaches they know work best for the patient are available beyond the hospital walls.

For example, doctors and health care providers know that when someone is having a stroke, every second counts from the moment symptoms begin to the patient’s arrival in the hospital emergency room. That is why stroke care teams at Novant Health are actively working with paramedics to write shared protocols to directly connect the care delivered in the field to the care delivered in the emergency room. Because emergency medical services (EMS) and emergency room teams are operating from a playbook they developed together, EMS personnel know that when they alert an emergency room that they are on the way with a potential stroke patient, the hospital team will have made preparations to immediately begin diagnosis and treatment upon arrival at the ER doors.

Novant Health knows the steps being taken in the field on the way to the hospital lead to a greater number of patients making full recoveries, where in the past they might have had long-lasting, debilitating effects from their stroke. The organization works with local EMS teams to provide regular education for emergency responders free of charge. At the events, the group discusses case studies and best practices that illustrate real outcomes of the care provided and identify tools that the teams can use to cut down on assessment times. This provides opportunities to collaborate on field-to-emergency room protocols and discuss what’s working and where there can be improvements.

Novant Health is committed to improving the health of communities and therefore has made these protocols widely available by sharing them at Stroke Summits and American Heart Association conferences so that others may learn how to improve outcomes.

Finding efficiencies and reducing costs within hospital operations

When open source expertise is part of a hospital or health system’s culture, it extends beyond sharing best practices for saving patient lives. It also includes sharing ways to find efficiencies and save patient costs.

At Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, orthopedic physicians and their team members realized that the tools, devices and approaches used in many of their surgeries varied widely. By taking a team approach and determining the best equipment and techniques to use in certain orthopedic surgeries, the orthopedic department was able to streamline its approach and the types of tools and devices to use. This ultimately improved patient experiences as medical team members were able to become experts on a specific list of approved devices and approaches. This not only led to better patient outcomes, but also reduced cost for the patient. Larry Nycum, MD, senior vice president for medical affairs at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, who collaborated in this effort, will share the process the team developed at a nationwide conference this fall.

“We wanted to find the approach and tools that worked best for our patients and have been pleased with outcomes so far,” said Dr. Nycum. “Our hope is that by sharing this process with other hospitals and physicians, they can create better outcomes and cost savings for their patients, too.”

The right care at the right place at the right time

Open source partnerships are one more way hospitals and health systems make sure that patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. By seeking a wide variety of opportunities for collaboration and joint learning across different care delivery settings, hospitals are acting on their missions and making industry-leading expertise and quality of care more readily available in every community.