Mercy Recognized as Tech Brainiac for Innovation

Mercy will be among six health care organizations to receive an Intelligent Hospital Award at this year’s Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference Feb. 24 in Orlando, Fla.

Given by RFID in Healthcare Consortium (RHCC), a global not-for-profit focusing on the safe and effective use of wireless-based technologies in health care, the award recognizes leaders in advanced technology solutions. Mercy will receive the award in the category of Most Innovative Use Case, reflecting Mercy’s work with Harvard University on a U.S. Food and Drug Administration grant for a Unique Device Identification (UDI) system – a global tracking initiative for implanted medical devices.

“With 8,000 new medical devices flooding the market each year, it’s critical that we find ways to track them so we can ensure better patient safety,” said Dr. Joseph Drozda, Mercy’s director of outcomes research. “We piloted a tracking system in our heart cath labs that harnessed our electronic health record (EHR) to not only track the devices but capture vital research data that helps assess whether devices are working as they should.”

Currently, no such tracking system exists in health care. For millions of patients around the world with implanted devices, from heart pacemakers to artificial knees, a UDI will improve patient safety, identify product problems quicker and better target recalls.

With a UDI label – a scannable bar code – on implanted devices important information is readily available, such as product name, expiration date, reference and lot numbers, manufacturer information, bar code, details and an illustration of the item. Ultimately, a UDI helps improve patient safety, identify product problems more quickly and better target recalls.

Following the success of Mercy’s cath lab pilot, plans are already underway to pilot the tracking system in Mercy’s operating rooms. Besides greater patient safety, the pilot proved other benefits, many of which were unexpected byproducts of the work, and included:

Time savings for clinicians. Directly increased bedside patient care because the electronic health record automatically tracked device inventory rather than caregivers having to manually track.Reduced medical errors, specifically due to the ability to pull expired devices from inventoryReduced cath lab labor hours in re-order and inventory managementPrecise knowledge of device locationAutomated manual processes, driving significant savings with inventory management

“A UDI tracking system that is linked globally is vital to patient safety but in order to move this forward, we need further research, a spotlight on the importance of this worldwide and greater support,” said Dr. Drozda, who is also chair of the Healthcare Transformation Group’s (HTG) Research and Development Team – a group of physicians and clinical researchers from Geisinger, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic and Mercy who have joined forces to develop a global UDI system in health care.

The following highlight the importance of better identifying implanted medical devices:

In the U.S. alone, more than a half million people each year undergo knee replacements, knees being the most frequently replaced joint in the body.In 2010, one of the leading artificial hip companies recalled 93,000 artificial hips implanted worldwide. The recalled joints failed in one out of eight patients after only five years. The devices that failed, in addition to requiring a new hip replacement, left some patients with fragments that became focal points for infections, nerve and vessel damage, and led to some deaths.Some other widely implanted devices include heart stents, artificial eye lenses for cataracts and metal screws, pins, plates and rods for bone fractures – one of the most common injuries across all ages.More than 2.5 million people in the U.S. each year have cataract surgery and more than a half million have heart stent implants. While stents have saved many lives, they can come with complications, including clots and blood-vessel blockage.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 33 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, two rehab hospitals and one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,100 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 


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