UCLA Health recognized for advancing technologies that improve patient care

From left: Jessica Jeffrey, MD, MPH, Kimberly Chen, MSN, RN, Kevin Baldwin, MPH, Clara Lin, MD, and Rachel Linonis, MS.

Story highlights

  • Prestigious Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) award acknowledges exceptional use of health care information technology.
  • Multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and professionals in IT, behavioral health, communications and performance excellence join forces to improve patient care.
  • A combination of integrated technologies has resulted in a four-fold increase in depression risk screenings among primary care patients.

In March, the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) awarded the 2018 HIMSS Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence to UCLA Health for its progressive use of health care information technology (IT) to improve patient outcomes while minimizing costs. “This enterprise award is one of the most coveted accolades in the health IT industry,” says Kevin Baldwin, MPH, informatics portfolio manager for UCLA Health.

UCLA Health’s IT team showcased three examples of IT innovation during a site visit by HIMSS representatives. All three featured systemwide use of information technology that benefits the organization both clinically and financially. A financial case study demonstrated the use of automated error detection and notification systems to reduce payment denials in CareConnect, UCLA Health’s electronic health record (EHR) program. The inpatient example highlighted technology-enabled strategies to optimize blood utilization. A third example for ambulatory care services touted new tools to increase depression screenings in primary care settings.

“Every primary care patient should complete an abbreviated depression risk assessment every year. In 2016, only about 16 percent of our patients did so,” says Clara Lin, MD, an internal medicine-pediatrics specialist and a physician informaticist. “If the assessment indicates a problem, the patient should complete the full questionnaire. In 2016, fewer than 40 percent of patients flagged in the initial screening completed the follow-up step.”

To improve screening compliance, several departments worked collaboratively to develop an IT system. “The Division of Population Behavioral Health created the Behavioral Health Checkup, a cloud-based tool adapted from the technologies used to screen and treat military and at-risk families for over ten years,” says Jessica Jeffrey, MD, MPH, the division’s associate director. “We refined that system to fit the needs of primary care patients, as well as the workflow needs of primary care offices. The new approach makes it easier for doctors to administer the appropriate screenings at the right time.”

In its first year of use, screening rates increased four-fold, with more than 70 percent of adult patients completing the initial assessment. The completion rate for the follow-up diagnostic evaluation jumped to 91 percent. “This success shows the profound impact that strategically implemented technologies can have on patient care,” says Baldwin. The screening technology is being rolled out at more primary care clinics this year .

To learn more about all three award-winning IT cases, visit the HIMSS Health Information and Technology Resource Library.