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Managing risk: safe patients, secure budget

by Olga Deshchenko, DOTmed News Reporter | May 26, 2010
Money Health
This report originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of DOTmed Business News

The delivery goes smoothly and the mother gives birth to a healthy girl. But the baby leaves the hospital motherless. To the shock of the obstetrics team, she dies of postpartum hemorrhage, a leading cause of maternal mortality.

"There's often a miscommunication of how much blood was lost during the procedure and how much blood was lost while on the floor," says Amelia Newbury, chief operations officer of the eLearning department for Advanced Practice Strategies (APS). "That lack of communication and coordination can sneak up on you."

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Recent studies estimate that 70 to 95 percent of deaths from postpartum hemorrhage are preventable. The course on the subject designed by APS aims to help medical professionals recognize common errors, reduce patient risk and avoid potential liability.

APS is a leader in the arena of patient risk management. Its eLearning department generates educational courseware based on real clinical experience. The company's strategic partners include the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions, the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and contacts in several academic medical centers.

"We reach out to that rich base of clinically connected subject matter experts and we ask them what their opinion is on why these errors are occurring," says Newbury. "We take a look at what themes are popping up for us and we then solicit these experts to help us understand solutions."

Commercial insurance carriers, captives (self-insured entities) and smaller, individual hospitals make up the majority of the company's clientele. APS partners with its customers to create custom-branded web sites for specific safety initiatives. Users are then able to log-on and complete the courses tailored to their needs. APS reports back on the compliance of the users, who may then receive incentives or certain privileges from their employers. In the case of a carrier, the reward is a reduction in liability premiums.

"The carriers are directly influencing the care that's rendered by their insured, thus reducing the risk to insure that individual because they're better educated as a result," says John Harrington, APS founder and chief mission officer.

HCA, the country's largest private health care delivery system, collaborated with APS on an extensive safety initiative. The company was responsible for delivering standardized online education courses to thousands of medical professionals.