Immediate Use Steam Sterilization (IUSS) is crucial for emergencies when there’s insufficient time for standard sterilization protocols. While lifesaving, frequent IUSS use can lead to increased infection risks and disrupt workflow efficiency. This case study explores how a large health system in the Midwest leveraged the software analytics capabilities of Ascendco Health’s Sonar platform to significantly reduce IUSS rates, enhancing both patient safety and operational efficiency.

Before implementing Ascendco Health’s Sonar platform, the health system struggled with high IUSS rates due to inefficient monitoring. Manual auditing was time-consuming and error-prone, lacking the visibility needed to identify and address the root causes of frequent IUSS use. This lack of effective monitoring led to potential infection risks and workflow disruptions in the operating room (OR) and sterile processing department (SPD).

The health system adopted a data-driven approach to tackle the IUSS challenge. By integrating Sonar’s software analytics, they developed a standardized process to document IUSS instances accurately for each instrument. This new approach facilitated easier reporting during audits and significantly improved data accuracy. The data-driven insights from Sonar enabled the health system to conduct a thorough root cause analysis, revealing insufficient instrument inventory as a primary factor for high IUSS rates.

To address this, the health system optimized their inventory levels, eliminating the urgent need for IUSS due to limited instrument availability. Additionally, the parameters used to identify IUSS procedures were meticulously audited to ensure the analytics’ accuracy. This comprehensive strategy not only reduced IUSS rates but also streamlined OR and SPD processes, ensuring consistent instrument availability.

The impact of this initiative was profound. Over 18 months, IUSS rates dropped below 0.1% despite an increase in the overall volume of items sterilized. This reduction significantly minimized infection risks, enhancing patient safety. Moreover, the health system achieved improved workflow efficiency in the OR and SPD, demonstrating the power of data analytics in driving sustainable healthcare improvements.

“Incorporating IUSS into analytics facilitates the investigation and future mitigation of the situations that create a need for IUSS in the first place,” says Ivan Zavortink, Ascendco Health Platform Specialist. This success story exemplifies how leveraging advanced analytics with Ascendco Health’s Sonar platform can lead to remarkable improvements in patient safety and operational efficiency, setting a new standard for sterilization practices in healthcare.