A Unique Solution for Decedent Management and Tracking
4 Minute Read – In the fall of 2019, one of our long-time customers presented us with a question that would ultimately inspire us to develop a very unique solution. The big question was, “Can we configure your supply chain automation platform for decedent management and tracking?” This of course raised many more questions…and ideas! As VP of Product for Syft, you can imagine my excitement about this project.
After much discussion and a lot of market research, we learned that most hospitals use manual processes for postmortem patient handling—often because they can’t find any good solutions to automate this extremely complex process. We knew we could address this need.
We quickly developed the Syft Synergy Decedent Management and Tracking solution, which is built on our existing hospital supply chain automation platform. Never could we have anticipated how quickly our solution would undergo the ultimate pressure test as a result of COVID-19.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Decedent Management
Our customer, who initially spurred the idea behind our new solution and became one of our first users, experienced a higher rate of patient deaths due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, this customer—a large mid-western health system with nearly 56,000 inpatient admissions each year—was not alone in that struggle. Hospitals across the country are struggling to efficiently and compassionately handle their decedents. The crisis has thrust hospital decedent management into the national spotlight like never before.
Pre-COVID statistics show that approximately 70% of U.S. deaths take place in a hospital or other institutional setting (e.g. hospice care). With roughly 2.8M U.S. deaths occurring in 2019, we can surmise that nearly 1.9M deaths occurred in a hospital or like environment. Hospitals dealing with accelerated patient deaths from COVID-19 need tools that can be integrated quickly and in unison with their existing systems such as the EHR/HL7/ADT.
Rightfully so, hospitals are hyper-focused on patient care and recovery. Unfortunately, many do not have well-orchestrated processes for managing patients who do not recover from illness or injury. Some have developed an Office of Decedent Affairs (ODA) in which ODA specialists oversee the long list of activities surrounding patient demise. While ODA oversight is extremely helpful, ODA specialists – and the many others who are involved in these activities – are still burdened by manual workflows and other requirements including documentation, communication, personnel, equipment, supply, and tracking requirements to name a few. The documentation requirements alone are enough to warrant adoption of an automated decedent management solution. Hospitals must adhere to city, state, and federal documentation requirements as well as their own protocols which can be different for hospitals even within the same network.
Point is, ODA specialists need technology too. With the right technologies in place, hospitals can efficiently manage the technical and business aspects of patient demise events and alleviate stress and frustration for many multidisciplinary hospital staffers.
How Syft Addresses this Critical Need
Our decedent management solution provides this critical technology and is configurable to address each hospitals’ unique needs and compliance requirements.A few key benefits of the solution include:
- Real-time, technology-enabled tracking for decedents and appendages ensuring the decedent’s location is always known
- Decedent identification and transfer verification via the ‘Patient Passport’
- Pre-populated forms (from the EHR) to help expedite the tedious documentation process
- Automated communications/notifications to align internal and external stakeholders
- Configurable dashboards and reports including communicable disease tracking, other important decedent statistics, and workflow and time tracking with visual alerts and prioritization of tasks ensuring timely completion of activities
Death is a highly sensitive subject, and because of that the healthcare market has been shy about developing solutions for decedents. There is a lack of awareness, resources, and guidance for hospitals so despite their best efforts, many continue to use ad hoc, manual workflows that create unnecessary burdens on all the key stakeholders including ODA specialists, clinicians, transport and security personnel, morgue staffers, external parties, and of course, deceased patients’ loved ones. We hope to shine a light on this subject and help hospitals better serve their patients along the full continuum of care. We all deserve this.