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Philips deal saves MUSC millions and improves patient safety

Helen Adams | | September 21, 2016

Dr. David Habib, Dan Altman
Photos/Sarah Pack
Dr. David Habib, left, and Dan Altman say new Philips monitors, including the one between them, can be quickly disconnected when a patient needs to be moved to another area.

Four months into a partnership designed to save MUSC Health as much as $5 million and improve patient safety, pediatric critical care specialist David Habib, M.D., loves what he’s seeing.

“We can finally predict our patient monitoring equipment expenses,” Habib said. “And the new equipment will soon allow us to seamlessly share patients’ medical information with the doctors and nurses who need to see it without having to basically manually transfer the data.”

That’s thanks to an eight year, $36 million deal with the technology company Philips Healthcare, which supplies MUSC Health with patient monitoring equipment and software. 

Nurse Brittany Buckheister 
Nurse Brittany Buckheister shows one of the new Philips monitors at MUSC Health. 

Habib, who holds a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, serves as chairman of the MUSC Health Capital Allocation team. “We’re the first academic institution in the country that’s established a partnership with Philips to this level,” he said.

Patient monitoring systems, which measure vital signs, can catch problems before they become apparent. In some cases, they can even save lives and help patients go home from the hospital sooner. 

Using technology to monitor patients at MUSC Health is not new – it’s been an important component of care for years – but the quality is about to get even better.

Under the new partnership, Philips will install, integrate and manage patient monitoring systems and provide maintenance, training and consulting services.

MUSC Health saves money, because under the deal, it will buy all monitoring equipment through an annual payment schedule instead of paying separately for each transaction. That means it can set an equipment replacement schedule while taking advantage of a partnership discount rate. 

The agreement also streamlines patient data for doctors and nurses because the systems are being standardized. So if a patient comes into the hospital, is admitted in the ER, transferred to surgery, goes into intensive care and then moves to another room, all of the monitoring data is immediately available to the doctors and nurses in each of those different areas. 

“We should be able to move patients through the system to the wards in a safer fashion,” Habib said.

The deal is the result of several years of discussion and assessment that started when Habib and Dan Altman, manager of Capital Planning and Allocation for MUSC Health, noticed something that bothered them. 

“We were purchasing monitoring equipment in an episodic manner,” Habib said. “It was not in an organized approach. We couldn’t predict platform changes because we weren’t privy to inside plans at Philips.”

Philips monitor 
Under its 8-year deal with Philips, MUSC Health could save $5 million. 

Altman put it this way. “The old relationship was a lot like building cars with planned obsolescence, almost forcing MUSC Health into a position where we had to have to acquire all of the new monitors to get the benefit of with regular but unannounced software enhancements.”

That made it really hard to predict what their patient monitoring expenses would be. So they decided to do something about it, becoming just the fifth American institution to enter a long-term, strategic partnership with Philips.

On a recent morning, Altman and Habib walked around MUSC Medical Center and showed off some of the new Philips technology in the post-anesthesia care unit. Habib said it’s already improving nurses’ ability to provide post-operative care and will get even better as the deal progresses.

“This is the latest version of Philips digital monitoring,” he said, pointing to one of the new screens by a bed. Habib said it can be quickly disconnected from the bedside monitor to seamlessly move the patient to another area. 

“Doctors and nurses like the new transport monitor because it weighs about two and a half pounds,” Altman said. “The old one was 12 pounds.”

Over the course of the 8-year deal, there will be other improvements, including software upgrades and smarter systems that can help predict when a patient might be getting into medical trouble. 

Altman said there will also be better alarm management, meaning patient alerts can be securely transmitted to doctors’ and nurses’ smartphones. “Instead of moving the patient to where the technology is, we take the technology to where the patient can receive the most appropriate level of care.

The Philips deal will also:

  • Make it easier for MUSC Health to integrate all of its clinical information technology systems.
  • Allow for better collection and management of patient data.
  • Lead to better diagnoses and treatments.
  • Reduce complications and readmissions.

Habib said the deal also gives MUSC Health more of a say in what Philips products can do. “Creating a partnership can help us push them in a good direction they might not otherwise take because of the investment involved.” 

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