Why health systems can leverage ERAS protocols amid the pandemic and beyond: 4 notes

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Hospitals can utilize enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols to better support patients and reduce negative postoperative outcomes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During a Feb. 9 webinar hosted by Becker's and sponsored by Cardinal Health, industry leaders discussed ERAS protocols ― best known for reducing negative postoperative outcomes after surgery ― and how they can be leveraged during the pandemic. 

The webinar panel was moderated by Michael Boylan, RN, Global Medical Affairs Manager at Cardinal Health.   

The speakers were:

  • Athena Lendvay
    BSN, RN, OCN Program Coordinator at Mountain View, Calif., El Camino Hospital
  • Keith Beiermeister
    MD, FACS, FASCRS with San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons and San Diego-based Scripps Health
  • Tina Keller
    BSN, RNFA, senior clinical consultant at Cardinal Health

Four key takeaways about utilizing ERAS protocols during COVID-19: 

1. Why implement ERAS protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

"Why wouldn't you?" Ms. Keller said. “Even when surgery is done well, bad outcomes can occur. ERAS protocols are evidenced based to improve patient outcomes and shorten recovery time.” ERAS and COVID-19 are a natural fit, Dr. Beiermeister added, noting the decreased length of stay and resource utilization. 

2.  They can be implemented without a large budget.

Implementing ERAS is possible without a large budget, Ms. Lendvay said. She noted that it may take longer without significant funds, but that shouldn't stop systems from implementing the best practices for patients. She added that showing an estimated annual cost savings of $200,000 tied to early implementation of ERAS protocols also helped catch administration's attention and show the benefit of expanding the program.  Dr. Beiermeister, a surgeon with Scripps Health, said the nonprofit, non-academic system doesn't have unending resources, but was still able to successfully implement ERAS protocols.  

3.  The proof is in the data.  

Data collection is key to sharing the benefits of ERAS, according to Ms. Lendvay. Her own institution's data reveals outstanding results after going live with ERAS in 2018. Seeing what a difference it made in her own patients made a world of a difference, Ms. Lendvay said. 

From March 2017 to present, a formal colorectal ERAS protocol helped cut lengths of stay in half and decreased opioid use by roughly two-thirds, Dr. Beiermeister said. In 2018, Scripps also developed an ERAS identifier within Epic that tracks patients throughout all phases of care. Using this model, Scripps phased in ERAS protocols in gynecology, gynecology/oncology, bariatric surgery and cardiac surgery departments, and is currently developing protocol in breast and spine departments. Dr. Beiermeister said he anticipates administration will be 100 percent on board once they see the numbers.

4.  How Cardinal Health can help

Cardinal Health helps support ERAS protocol logistics and implementation by providing the patient-facing packs with key products that correspond with protocols and coordinating how to get products to patients, whether directly at the hospital or to the patient at home.

For more information about Cardinal Health, click here. To view the full webinar, click here.

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