Customer Spotlight: Munson Healthcare

by | Feb 11, 2019 | Healthcare

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When are analytics deployments most successful? When they are tied to an organization’s strategy. That way, organizations can ensure their analytics projects are supporting their most critical goals.

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At Munson Healthcare, a 9-hospital system located in Traverse City, Michigan, its Diver deployment is tied into its overall strategy that guides all of the organization’s actions. I learned a lot about how Munson Healthcare thinks about developing its analytics applications and the successes it has seen during a recent visit to Traverse City. Here are some of my notes.

“True North” – Munson’s guiding compass

Munson Healthcare is guided by its “True North” framework – those priorities that are most critical to the organization. True North is represented visually as a compass that symbolizes the organization’s orientation. The health system has placed the patient in the middle of its compass, because the patient is central to everything the organization does. Surrounding the patient are different areas that support the central mission – the healthcare team, safety, quality, and operational performance.

Munson Healthcare has a clinical and business intelligence team comprised of several data scientists and analysts who work to create applications on Diver. To date, the team has created more than 50 analytics applications, all in support of True North. As the team develops new applications, it considers the framework and ensures that it is supporting all areas of the organization.

One thing that struck me when I was at Munson Healthcare was how everyone in the organization really seemed to embrace True North. Every person I spoke to enthusiastically talked about the framework and how they contributed to it. In fact, I was so impressed with it that when I got home, I had everyone in the marketing department read the book that the framework grew out of.

Making an impact in the Women & Children’s department

One of the people I was able to meet at Munson Healthcare was Mary Schubert, who leads the Women & Children’s department. Mary is incredibly dedicated to her role and is passionate about many areas, especially around reducing maternal mortality.

Mary is one of the biggest users of Diver in the health system; she uses it on a regular basis to monitor the quality, safety, and financial measures critical to her department. Thus far, Mary has been able to make great strides from her use of data to inform her decisions. I was most impressed with those projects that directly impacted patient care.

  • Newborn readmissions: Schubert noticed in the data that several newborns were being readmitted for hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice), so the hospital worked with pediatricians and nursing staff to laser focus on this issue. That included making sure moms and babies were ready to leave the hospital, and making sure moms knew how to breastfeed correctly, bringing in lactation experts if necessary. As a result, the hospital was able to see a decrease in hyperbilirubinemia readmits, which was part of the overall reduction of readmits in the department by 24% in two years.
  • C-section reduction: The department has also used data to make improvements in its nulliparous, term, singleton, vertex (NTSV) C-section rate. This type of C-section is considered low-risk and is more variable. National quality measures target NTSV rates of less than 20%. By viewing the data at different hospitals and having the appropriate discussions and interventions with staff, the Women & Children’s department was able to reduce its overall NTSV rates across the system, with improvement percentages ranging from 10% to 41% among its hospitals.

Part of what I loved so much about talking to Mary was the obvious enthusiasm she has for the women and children that Munson Healthcare serves. When talking about the jaundice readmits she said:

“For us, compared to the grand scheme of things for system-wide readmits, we are a very small part, but for a family to take a newborn baby home and then have to come back, it’s a huge deal. Yes, this is one of our True North metrics, but also from the patient experience perspective, nobody wants to have to come back to the hospital after their baby is born. It’s scary. And it’s potentially life-altering. So having this information at our fingertips has been a huge help.”

Ensuring patients don’t get the wrong dosage of a drug

Many would say it’s a stretch to say “analytics saves lives,” but at Munson Healthcare, that’s not far from reality. Even if the healthcare system can’t definitively say it’s saved a life with analytics, it’s clear that it’s certainly helped avoid potentially harmful situations.

Nick Torney, an infectious disease pharmacist at Munson Healthcare, wanted an analytics tool that would notify him if patients with certain kidney functions received a prescription that could be harmful to them. So he worked with a multi-disciplinary team in the hospital, which included the clinical and business intelligence department, to develop an application that would look at patients’ serum creatinine levels and alert him if the serum creatinine level is out of the clearance range for a particular drug. Over several months, Munson Healthcare was able to intervene for patients, potentially avoiding serious medical problems.

Ann Vermeer, who leads the clinical and business intelligence team at Munson Healthcare, told me, “That’s why we build out these different tools – whether it’s for safety or quality – all of our metrics come back to the patient. Everything we prioritize and work on has to impact the patient.”

When it comes down to it, these two examples show what Munson Healthcare’s True North is all about. It’s about the patient being at the center of everything. And I’m proud that Dimensional Insight and Diver Platform can contribute to that better patient care.

Reduction in NTSV rates of 10 to 41 percent

Travel notes

  • Traverse City is located in Northern Michigan at the bottom of Grand Traverse Bay, which is part of Lake Michigan. The city is a popular tourist destination in the summer, and I was surprised to hear from the Munson Healthcare staff that a handful of vacationers every year go into labor and have surprise deliveries at one of their hospitals. Quite a vacation experience!
  • When in the cherry capital of the world, you have to eat cherry pie. Right? That’s what I told myself. Traverse City hosts the National Cherry Festival every year; the event is approaching its 100th anniversary. During my visit, I stopped for lunch at the Grand Traverse Pie Company and ate a slice of its Grand Traverse Cherry Crumb Pie, which was tops at the Cherry Festival. It was delicious.
  • Traverse City is also home to about 40 different wineries, which this East Coast girl found surprising. I stopped by the Chateau Grand Traverse to sample some of their wines. The region is well-known for its Rieslings. And of course, there was cherry wine!

Learn more

Read more about how Munson Healthcare is using Dimensional Insight by reading the full case study on our website.

You can also read previous customer spotlights.

Ready for a test drive of our healthcare analytics software?

Kathy Sucich
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