The prestigious HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence was given to the California Correctional Healthcare Services for developing an automated risk classification system in an effort to improve care and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, according to a Healthcare IT News article.
In past years, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation relied on paper as a basis for maintaining and storing inmate patient records—a system that was “unwieldy” and prone to losing papers. As the inmate population topped 125,000, inmates’ paper healthcare records were spread out across the state of California in more than 30 institutions. With new arrivals averaging 600 per week and 11,000 inmate transferring each month, their health records were slow to follow them.
The challenges of this person-dependent paper pro- cess potentially contributed to adverse medical outcomes and eventually resulted in the appointment of a federal receiver to oversee healthcare within the California Correctional system. This inspired and accelerated a shift to paperless documentation.
The creation of an automated risk classification system improved the placement of nearly 20 percent of all patients with a high-risk designation, allowing the department to transfer inmates to prisons located closer to tertiary care centers—which had access to expanded healthcare services.
“Quality patient care is the principle function of any healthcare organization, regardless of the patient population,” said Federal Receiver J. Clark Kelso. “Incorporating information technology solutions to leverage healthcare data is imperative to make informed decisions and improve organizational performance.”
These changes now al- low healthcare staff and the department to quickly communicate inmate patient healthcare factors in order to appropriately place and house at risk inmate patients.
The department as a whole was able to offer appropriate patient care while reducing avoidable hospitalization for “high-risk” patients from 70.9 percent per 1,000 patients in 2015 to 43.5 percent in 2017. This reduction of paper records has saved the department more than $2 million dollars in the first three years of operation.