ECRI, the nation’s largest independent patient safety organization, names the Guthrie Clinic (Sayre, PA) as the winner of its 2023 Health Technology Excellence Award. ECRI’s annual award honors a member facility for implementing an exceptional initiative to improve patient safety, reduce costs, or otherwise facilitate better strategic management of health technology.

The Guthrie Clinic, a rural integrated health system serving patients in New York and Pennsylvania, won this year’s award for its strategic approach to addressing staffing shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using an artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced video and communications platform, the organization rapidly implemented a telesitting program to address their immediate need—a staffing crisis. Significantly, this initiative also served as the first phase and proof of concept for developing a virtual command center—called the Guthrie Pulse Center—that would centralize certain operational and patient care functions and provide greater access to clinical expertise regardless of where the patient was being treated.

“Shortages in the healthcare workforce are a top patient safety concern. We were impressed with the safety, quality, and financial results that Guthrie achieved after setting up their system,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO of ECRI. “Their implementation of AI and video technology led to immediate improvements in patient safety, as well as demonstrable cost savings.”

Beyond addressing the staffing crisis, the Guthrie Clinic’s initiative positions the organization to better meet patients’ future needs as healthcare delivery models evolve. The project is intended to help the organization improve care—and improve access to care—in a variety of settings across the large geographic region that the health system serves.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized for the contributions the Guthrie Pulse Center is making to patient care,” says Terri Couts, RN, MHA, Guthrie’s chief digital officer.

“Building off of our positive experience with AI in addressing our original staffing challenge, we broadened our focus to provide additional supportive care to our intensive care unit nurses and the patients we serve by providing an experienced remote critical care nurse as enhanced support for the bedside nurse. This allowed for a more experienced nurse to support the less experienced ICU bedside nurse with functions like blood administration, second signs of high-risk medications, procedural support, and general questions and monitoring. This support directly impacts the outcomes of our patients, helps our nurses feel supported, and allows us to keep our patients in the right bed closest to home,” explains Couts.

In addition to naming the Guthrie Clinic the 2023 award winner, ECRI recognizes the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality (Baltimore, MD) as runner-up for its development and implementation of an innovative safety-event-reporting software application. Award finalists are Einstein Medical Center, Jefferson Health (Philadelphia, PA), Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset (Somerville, NJ), and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (Miami, FL).