Texas Hospital Association Turns Heads, Cuts Costs With “Smart Ribbon”

The hospital group has helped its members save hundreds of thousands of dollars through the implementation of the Smart Ribbon technology, an analytics dashboard that makes clear the costs that come with different procedures.

Giving members the full picture isn’t always an easy thing to pull off, but the Texas Hospital Association is finding success with an analytics dashboard that lays everything out.

THA’s “Smart Ribbon” aims to make clear to doctors both their current workflow and the way that costs play a role in the decisions that they make. The approach, developed by IllumiCare and THA’s Center for Technology Innovation, is intended to make clear that each procedure and medication type has an attached cost and attached risk—and some of those costs might be higher or risks more dangerous than others.

“Many studies have proven that informing physicians about treatment costs and/or risk of patient harm, at the time and place they are about to order the next test or medication, causes them to order fewer and less expensive tests and medications,” THA states on its website. “However, there is currently no tool to automate this process.”

The association says in a white paper that facilities that use the technology have seen their costs decline significantly at a time when costs are otherwise going up. For family practice facilities, for example, IllumiCare users have seen costs drop by more than 44 percent, while peers that don’t use the service saw their costs jump up by 25 percent.

The healthcare industry has taken notice of the idea’s potential: In November, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, which represents the medical IT industry, gave the association’s chief digital officer, Fernando Martinez, Ph.D., its CHIME Innovator of the Year award, with the Smart Ribbon concept a key reason. The approach helped one medical system, the Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, save $430,444 over a 71-day period.

Martinez credited the technology’s platform-independent approach for helping to drive the success.

“One key element to the success of the THA Smart Ribbon is the fact that it is EMR [electronic medical record] agnostic,” Martinez said, according to Healthcare Informatics. “It does not directly integrate or interact with the EMR. For instance, there is no need for additional testing or modification when EMR upgrades or modifications are made. This is a significant benefit for IT teams.”

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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