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Evan Sweeney

Using data analytics layered on top of the EHR, the Mayo Clinic has turned the firehose of patient data into more of a trickle.

The renowned hospital system headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota, has used that approach to filter tens of thousands of data points down to 60 pieces of critical information that are displayed for ICU physicians in a visually appealing format. Using “ambient-intelligence” applications licensed by system’s venture capital arm, the approach gives physicians an extra hour each day that can be utilized for bedside care, three Mayo Clinic physicians wrote in Harvard Business Review.

“In fast-paced critical care units, where even small errors can have big consequences, this digital team member can overload physicians with information,” the authors wrote. “The sheer volume of data in EHRs creates a staggering challenge in complex environments such as intensive care units (ICUs) and emergency medicine departments.”

The initiative began with a series of interviews with 1,500 clinicians over a two-year period to understand which data points flowing through the EHR were particularly impactful.

Using that information, researchers built an EHR interface for ICU physicians that could filter out the unnecessary information and integrated a color-coordinated dashboard that emphasized important data points along with customized alerts.

Subsequent research shows mortality rates were cut in half among ICU patients treated after the implementation of the system. ICU stays also decreased by 50%.

The ICU has been a hotspot for data analytics as hospitals look to refine the data put in front of patients. For example, Dignity Health has developed clinical decision support software to send targeted alerts that could have sepsis, and Sutter Health has used AI to improve prescribing practices.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is grappling with how to regulate clinical decision support software, leaving some organizations wondering how the agency will oversee ICU dashboards.