Canyonlands Utah in the 1990’s was a beautiful getaway for me and my then-fiancée. Having heard of this wonderful mountain-bike mecca, we had come, bikes-on-top of my subcompact, met up with our tour group, a diverse crew of men and women of various ages.
It would be 100 miles in 4 days across rugged terrain on mountain bikes with a group of 12, a couple of guides and a required-escort (at that time) park ranger. Check it out for yourself, it is a quintessential southwest wonderland.
We begin with a 1000 foot descent into the canyon along a jeep trail. We had brought our old unsuspended bikes with hand brakes. Although the ride was hard on our bodies, we were pleasantly surprised that our equipment was up to the task.
Our ride was a blast: wildflowers, spectacular vistas, and good company, with mostly flat single track.
Our guides drive a 4×4 SAG wagon with our gear and food and set up not only our first lunch, but all our meals for the coming days. We have gallons of water that we don’t have to carry! Our camelback hydration backpacks are fantastic for on-the-bike refreshment. This is the life.
Glamping (glamour camping)
At about 25 miles into the trip, at the end of the first day, we get to camp: our guides have driven ahead, set up our site. Dinner is ready and all we have to do is pitch a tent, grab a plate and a folding chair, sit and eat. So awesome. And after dinner, a campfire (apparently forbidden in recent years in the park) and then the Milky Way. Canyonlands, and other national parks, are famous for the lack of light pollution and the spectacular view of the night sky.
At the end of our third day of riding, as we set up camp, our guide tells us: the Green River is about 4 miles away for anyone wanting an extra excursion. Only I take up the challenge, others choose to rest at our campsite. At the time, I was training to ride my first (and only) double century later that summer (200 miles in a day: the Davis Double, but that is a story for another day), and I was anxious to get in some additional miles.
The Zen of Sand
Solo, I head out. We had learned from our guides about long patches of deep sand on the trail, and the “zen” trick of sitting back, focusing on being “smooth and circular” on the pedals, having a fingertip light touch on the handlebars, and gazing far down the track to improve balance. If done just right, one could “float” over deep sand on the trail. Turns out, this guy agrees with me (youtube).
I actually had a few moments of success doing the sand-float in the shadow of the Airport Tower formation, entirely alone with the crags and formations of the Southwest landscape. Other times, I did the meditative sand-bike-walk.
Arriving at the river, I stash my bike in the shrubbery. I see a flat rock jutting out into the river and I determine that I’m going to skinny dip, be clean for the first time in days, and sun myself dry on the rock. Should be great.
To my parched, sand-and-sunscreen-caked, sun-blasted body, splashing in water is heaven. I soak in the cool, rub off the grime, submerge my head and hair and luxuriate.
Then I climb out into the rock, buck naked and unafraid. It has been days since I’ve seen more than our merry biker band, and they’re all kicking back at camp. I shall air-dry, sensually alive and glorious.
I am a glorious human form.
I am one with nature.
I am a Sun God.
In the back of my head, I begin to hear a buzzing. What is that? Do I have tinnitus? Odd.
It gets louder. Hmm. A washing machine? Absurd.
Yet louder. An airplane? I look overhead. No contrails. Nothing. Clear blue to the horizon.
Unmistakably the sound of machinery. Rrrr-rrrr-mmm-mmm.
… and around the bend of the river, a 20-seater tour boat, 20 feet away, a gawk-fest of tourists, with a couple kids pointing out the naked man with a bike-shorts-tan splayed out on a rock in the river.
I believe all parties were mortified.
What was there to do, but wave? And then =plop= back into the river.
I am a bottom-dwelling salamander. I am a shrinking violet. I am an overexposed slide.
This data dilettante (see previous posts: dilettante #1, dilettante #2) has enjoyed armchair theorizing with all of you, my best (online) friends. Today we explore how our super-smart team scrambled our way to improving sepsis care with a predictive algorithm we built.
The old saying goes: the success of any major project in a large organization follows the 80:20 rule. 20% of the work is getting the technology right, and 80% is the socio-political skill of the people doing the work.
We all underappreciate this fact.
It turns out that we spent months building a sepsis alert predictive tool, based on various deterioration metrics, and a deep analysis of years of our EHR data across multiple hospitals. We designed it to alert providers and nurses up to 12 hours BEFORE clinicians would spot deterioration.
We patted ourselves on the back, deployed the predictive score in a flowsheet row, and in the patient lists and monitoring boards, with color coding and filters, and stepped back to revel in our glory.
Turns out that our doctors and nurses were ALREADY FULLY BUSY (even before the pandemic) taking are of critically ill patients. Adding YET ANOTHER alert, even with fancy colors, did NOT result in a major behavior shift to ordering IV fluids, blood cultures, or life-saving antibiotics any quicker.
See the fancy patient-wearable tech on the left (Visi from Sotera, in this case), and one of our hardworking nurses, with ALL of our current technology hanging off her jacket and stethoscope. She should be the visual encyclopedia entry for “alert fatigue.” 😦
Back to the drawing board
As result of our failure, we huddled to think about transforming the way we provided care. It was time to disrupt ourselves. We decided to implement a Virtual Health Center, mimicking what we had seen in a couple places around the country: we deployed 2 critical care physicians and about a half-dozen critical care nurses on rotation, off-site at an innovative, award-winning Virtual Health Center.
This second time around, we created a cockpit of EHR data and predictive alerts to the VHC clinicians, who were dedicated to watching for deterioration across ALL our hospitals, and responding quickly. This does several things:
Takes the load off busy front line clinicians
Creates a calm environment for focused, rapid response
Dramatically improves the signal-to-noise ratio coming from predictive alerts
This way, the VHC nurses view all the alerts, investigate the chart, and contact the bedside nurse when the suspicion is high for sepsis, and start the sepsis bundle immediately.
Soon, by tweaking the ways our teams worked together, we were able to reduce the burden on bedside nurses and physicians and simplify handoffs.
See chart above: Before the VHC, bedside nurses were responsible for detecting sepsis (infrequent, subtle signals during a busy shift with lots of loud alarms for other things), with many ‘grey box’ tasks, as well as ‘magenta box’ delays.
After implementing the VHC, the VHC nurses took over the majority of ‘green box’ tasks, reducing the bedside ‘grey box’ work and completely eliminating ‘magenta box’ delays.
As a result, we have dropped our “time to fluids” by over an hour, and “time to antibiotics” by 20 minutes, which we estimate has saved 77 more lives from sepsis each year.
CMIO’s take? Predictive analytics, data science, machine learning, call it what you like. This is a paradigm shift in thinking that requires disrupting “business as usual” and is hard, but rewarding work. I can’t wait to see what we all can achieve with these new tools.